If you’re a retail technologist and you haven’t yet read the December 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review, let me offer a friendly suggestion: Stop what you’re doing. Find a way to buy the issue. Sit down and absorb.
Three articles (one of them an interview with JC Penney’s Ron Johnson, he of Target and Apple Store fame). It’s all about how we need to be thinking about the physical environment of retailing. What it represents. Why it’s critically important today and tomorrow. And what retailers have to do to save the store, and in doing so, save the business.
The reality of today’s shopping behavior is that it’s cross-channel. Consumers bounce between the so-called touch points as they move through the shopping journey, from PC to mobile to store. And then maybe to the cash-wrap. Or back to the PC. Or maybe to the tablet while curled up on the sofa.
At any of these points, you can win a customer. At any point you can lose a customer. The data from numerous sources – including Cisco’s October 2011 survey of US and UK shoppers – makes clear that the store can play a huge role in online transactions, and that the PC and smartphone play a huge role in store transactions.
Bottom line for those who diss the store: it’s still where the vast majority of shopping is happening. And, if you starve your store experience, you’ll lose customers in droves – even among those who found you on the web. (Anyone listening in, Hoffman Estates?)
One of the many challenges retailers face today is how to differentiate from the competition in areas that would be considered generic or less attractive to new generation of shoppers.
Take the example of classical piano and instrumental music. In the age of MMORPG, Reality Television and MTV, how does a piano store in the small town of St. George, Utah and a bunch of musicians gain relevance and end up on CBS News.com and videos on YouTube with 23 million views?
Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel -- Steven Sharp Nelson
Pirates of the Caribbean -- Incredible Piano Solo of Jarrod Radnich Filmed by ThePianoGuys
Thanksgiving holiday came and went with Black Friday breaking records from last year.
The highlights of the numbers that have been quoted in the press today are:
Sales increased 6.6% over the same day last year, representing $11.4 billion in retail purchases and biggest amount ever spent during the day.
Retail foot-traffic increased by 5.1% over 2010 Source: Shoppertrak
Looking beyond the headline numbers, here are some other interesting data points:
Black Friday has been stretched with pre-promotions and longer shopping hours. Retail sales were up over 3.5% the week of November 12th and 18th
Data from ShopperTrak indicated that consumers are visiting fewer stores per trip (being more efficient due to time crunch) with average of 3.1 stores down from 3.19 last year. Shoppers are also doing more research on purchases before the trip.
Another report from ComScore shows that Black Friday extended online before Cyber Monday.
Bfads.net, number one most visited web site on Black Friday promotions
$12.7 billion has been spent so far online to date this holiday season with $816 million in Online sales on Black Friday
Thanksgiving Day online sales increased 18% to $479 million (perhaps after dinner shopping instead of watching Thanskgiving football?)
Top five online retail properties (excluding auction sites) are Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple with Amazon having 50% more visitors than any other retailer
What does this mean for retailers? Here are some thoughts: