May 26, 2016
News

What is the Future of Retail?

Since 1969 the internet was created to cover history, technology, and usage – it has done just that and more. Today we use the internet to interact, build business, run day to day business operations, and now purchase everything that one would need. This virtual way of connecting will always be a global place to find information instantly and explore new things; forever evolving the span of technology.

The internet has broken down the traditional 4 walls into something beyond and infinite. I can go online at any moment of the day and find exactly what I want, and even find something I never knew existed.

I remember walking into a Super Wal-Mart on black Friday 2015 and it was dead. No lines, no frenzy knocking each other down, and it was as if I wasn’t even supposed to be there.

Last Christmas the business world saw a dramatic shift of retail and buying online. Many UPS branches were backed up and felt “un-prepared” for the increase in drop shipping. Customers had mixed feelings as their packages were not arriving on time and #hash tagging UPS all over twitter asking where their package was. Thousands of packages went undelivered for Christmas.

Today many of the United States leading retailers are shutting down their store fronts.

  • Wal-Mart for the first time is downsizing their footprint by planning to close 269 stores Worldwide with 154 stores being in the United States.
  • Sears closing 10 stores this coming summer. Net losses reaching a total of $8 Billion since 2010.
  • Kmart closing 68 stores this coming summer.
  • Children’s Place closing 125-200 stores by 2017. Net income dropped from $89 Billion to $57 Billion.
  • Walgreens closing 200 stores by 2017 due to acquisition of 4,600 stores that Rite Aid currently operates.
  • Office Depot mergers with Office Max and is in process of closing 400 locations.
  • American Eagle to close 150 stores by 2017 with net income of $400 Million falling to $80 Million in 2015.
  • Sports Authority closing 140 stores and recently filed for bankruptcy and could lose all 450 stores.
  • Wolverine World Wide is one of the world’s largest footwear companies closing 100 stores.
  • Men’s Wearhouse announced massive operating losses and closing 250 stores.
These closings are just the beginnings. With everything adding up and all the changes I am seeing, it is apparent that retail stores are dying. We have the beast in the room closing a massive amount of stores; other key retailers are struggling, and an increase in drop shipping for carriers proves that e-commerce is on the rise. Brick-and-mortar retailers are reducing their store counts and employee counts hoping to turn around their figures.

Manufactures are restructuring their companies as retailers are devising new strategies to survive. Money is being pushed in the marketing and e-commerce divisions, and I see the best employees flip flopping around companies. Everyone seems to be more cautious and uncertain of their future. My best advice would be to learn and adapt. This world we live in is forever changing and to be successful one must know how to learn again, master again, and build new business strategies that will last the next decade.

Brick-and-mortar retailers do have a bright side and need to figure out how to make shopping fun again. Shoppers need to be influenced to go inside the store and spend money. To sustain companies will have to adapt to change, have strong marketing teams, and master the world of e-commerce.

Now is the time to invest in new technologies. Not only to shoppers want a competitive price, they want consistency in assortment and excellent customer service.

I foresee that technology will have a huge influence on the shopping experience where customers can engage more with their environment, have options to purchase in-store goods and products beyond the 4 walls in a fast efficient manner, and perhaps robot interactions. As humans we crave the senses of sight, see, smell, and touch while shopping.

The sight of the naked eye and hand of the dress we want to buy, or the furniture that will go in the living room is priceless. That is something that e-commerce could never give us.

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Comment below on ways you believe retail stores can utilize technology in their store fronts!

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