The [Not So] Hidden Effects of eCommerce

Malls Re-imagined in the Retail Apocalypse

You don’t have to look far to hear news of the retail apocalypse.  Records amount of stores closed last year with untold more closing this year.  The effects reach far beyond closed doors of major retailers with reaching effects on smaller boutique stores and mall owners.

As anchor stores close and foot traffic diminishes, an article in Bloomburg points out that the profitable stores are not the large ones at the ends of malls but the real profit is in the smaller retailers that pay higher per square foot rent.  As the anchor stores move out, smaller stores are quietly not renewing leases and moving out too.

This leaves mall owners to either reinvent the space or close up shop too.  Mall spaces are being re-imagined as communities, offices, gyms, medical offices and more.  One such example is Arcade Providence where you have 48 micro apartments and 17 boutique stores in a historic mall property that can no longer compete on just stores and foot traffic along.


Death of the Impulse Buy

That last minute soft drink or candy bar at checkout is another [Not So] Hidden casualty of eCommerce.  Even if people shop offline and go to the store, they often use self-checkout or pay on a mobile device which bypasses that last minute impulse buy.

Digiday sites that Brian Kavanagh, Senior director of retail evolution for Hershey said “Hershey is missing a chance to nudge consumers into last-minute purchases…While most online shopping today starts with search, people tend not to intentionally search for candy.”

Soft drink, gum, and other impulse items are also suffering.  Recreating the impulse environment online takes more finesse and targeting and usually is not for small items that are quickly consumed, as shipping them do not make sense.   These products will have to figure out new ways as eCommerce disrupts the impulse buy pipeline.

Accidental Discovery

Shopping was once deemed as the great American past time.  Droves of people went to malls and stores on weekends or after work, often to do nothing more but window shop.  Thanks to the preference for consumers to search for items online, the chance of discovering random items (that you might actually love) becomes much less likely.

In an age of personalization and search relevance, there is a much smaller chance that you randomly discover things that are FAR outside your natural circles of KNOWN interests.  That is to say, algorithms and markets are so tuned to advertising to audiences most likely to convert, that the random chance of finding something new and delightful that you didn’t know you wanted is minimal.  While some could argue that people only want to see what is relevant, others could argue the best things in life are those they stumbled upon.

We at BrandNexity are torn on this one, as advertisers want a better return on ad spend, which is something that we strive to give our clients,  we hate to see the death of accidental discovery!  As Artificial Intelligence and algorithms improve; however, no doubt will the computers know what we want before we do!

Access to Experts

Hop on Live Chat, or Call in on the phone, you’re connected with often friendly enough staff ready to take your order or give you your tracking number.  But don’t press them on the details.  The era of easy access to experts WHILE shopping is difficult.  That person who is the expert fisherman, jeweler, yoga instructor, horseback rider, motorcycle enthusiast.

While you can find some companies doing an excellent job of giving you access to experts, Marketplaces and other online retailers are not.  If product data does not give you everything you need to know about an item and there is no one there to answer the phone, the consumer moves on to a Brand that answers the questions lurking in their head as they flick past an endless selection of products on their mobile device.

That’s one reason that BrandNexity believes wholeheartedly in providing detailed descriptions and attributes for brands.  Once you let the products out in the retail environment, you can no longer control how retailers treat your respective products vs another brand.  You have to be the one taking control at the beginning of the product cycle.

More Casualties to Come

As retail continues to shift, there will be more casualties to traditional offline (and online) businesses.

What have you seen change because of eCommerce?  Join the conversation and leave a comment!

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