by Maggy Michaels Durrenberger
“Absolutely not” is the short answer. Yes, the rate of online sales continues to climb each year. But let’s not leap into an abyss of despair by interpreting that trend as the inevitable death knell for the physical retail store. The U.S. Census Bureau News reported that e-commerce represented only 5.5 percent of total sales in the first quarter of 2013. That means brick-and-mortar retail is still doing 94.5 percent of the business.
Visionary Apple Returns to Brick-and-Mortar
The disruptive nature of technology will continue to impact and shape our world, but the power of technology is not without limits. With all the things it can do, the human experience is completely missing. That’s why Apple shocked the world back in 2001 when it opened physical stores across the nation. After all, electronics was one thing that most people were happy to buy online. But Apple knew better. By tightly managing employee-to-customer interactions, along with every detail of the store, Apple was wildly successful at creating a fun and casual customer experience.
Will Behemoth Amazon Follow Suit?
So many rumors were flying around about Amazon opening physical stores that PBS talk show host Charlie Rose asked the question directly to CEO Jeff Bezos last November. Bezos said, “The answer is we would love to, but only if we could have a truly differentiated idea.” Keep in mind this perspective comes from the kingpin of online retailers. The phenomenon of Internet marketing is barely out of diapers and yet a few of the giants are already recognizing its shortcomings.
The Call is Clear: Do It Better
The real challenge facing brick-and-mortar stores, particularly those on the higher end, is the ability to respond creatively to today’s new multi-channel world. Saving a few dollars is not going to be the highest priority for many potential buyers. More than ever before, the physical retailer needs to create value-added, pleasurable shopping experiences that keep customers coming back.
Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren summarized it well in a Reuters interview when he said, “It’s clear to me that the consumer likes shopping online. I am focused on [this]: how do we make them feel as comfortable and ready to buy in our stores as they do online?”
About Gevril Group
Gevril Group is the exclusive US representative for select European watch brands, distributing and servicing luxury, fashion and sports timepieces at a wide range of price points. Gevril Group also operates a full-service watch repair department staffed by master Swiss watchmakers. Contact Gevril Group by email or by calling 845-425-9882.
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