Abandoned Shopping Cart: a metaphor for traditional retailing

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I was doing my weekly shopping errands and was wrestling with how best to get my preferred brand of cat food. Oscar Wildcat has to eat healthy.

I did not want to drive 30 minutes to a local pet store where the brand is stocked. But my local Publix did not stock the brand I wanted.

E-Tailers as The Third Option?

Why not buy from Amazon? Yes, I know, obvious, right?

Not wholly. While I am an avid Amazon shopper, I’ve only used it for planned purchases. My online shopping was not integrated into my normal shopping process.

Until now.

Going forward, I will shop for commodity items at a general purpose retailer, and shop specialty items at a specialty retailer, and when advantageous, buy from my preferred e-tailer…which happens to be Amazon.

Winners: Things Are Looking Fresh for E-Tailers

  1. E-Tailers. For convenience and for price, more and more consumers will go online for anything and everything…even fresh goods. (Amazon Fresh announcement). As long as they can “deliver the goods”
  2. Logistics: It’s one thing to sell. It’s another to ship.
  3. Long Tail, Speciality Goods Manufacturers. You can access a market that will be brand loyal and willing to pay a modest premium

Losers: Another Nail In The Coffin for Traditional Retailers

  • Traditional retailers: How can you differentiate beyond price or product immediacy with online retailers who stock more and can delivery within 24 hours – or less?
  • Commodity brand items that I can buy online who will be forced down the value chain to compete only on price to online retailers.
  • Employees: As “physical” retailers shrink and disappear, their employees will become ex-employees. What will they do?

Two Edges of a Blade

People get excited about e-tailers, and with good reason. But there is little discussion on the downside. While we can’t stop innovation, we need to prepare for rugged transitions. It will be ugly if we do not get in front of the changes.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

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