Important Lessons eCommerce Needs to Learn from the Death of Traditional Retail

If merchants cannot keep up with consumer expectations, we could see another retail apocalypse sweep through eCommerce.

We hear about the so-called “retail apocalypse” and the “death of retail” everywhere. Malls are closing. Retail giants are filing for bankruptcy. Things look bleak…but appearances can be deceiving. While many brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to survive, retail eCommerce is booming.

Things aren’t necessarily easy for retailers in cyberspace, though. As of 2018, Amazon sales alone account for nearly 50% of all US retail eCommerce sales. Walmart and other familiar big names capture another 20% of these sales. The frontier days of eCommerce are long gone, retail giants have staked their claim, and independent retailers will need to work hard if they want to stay relevant and competitive.









eCommerce and Evolving Consumer Expectations

While it’s tempting to blame the widespread downsizing and death of brick-and-mortar stores on the rise of eCommerce, it’s not that simple. Many store closings are symptomatic of a radical shift in buyer attitudes and expectations. This change may have been sparked and inflamed by eCommerce, but traditional retail’s failure to adapt and evolve has been its demise.

Online sellers are far from immune to the consequences of changing customer expectations. If independent eCommerce merchants cannot keep up, we could see another “retail apocalypse” sweep through cyberspace.

What Online Merchants Need to Learn From the Retail Apocalypse:

You Need a Clear Value Proposition

Some of the earliest victims of the retail apocalypse fell behind because they didn’t give consumers a reason to choose them. They weren’t the lowest cost provider, they didn’t offer anything special or unique, and they didn’t work to cultivate an experience that set their brand apart. A clear value proposition will show shoppers exactly why they should favor your store over the competition.

The Power of a Concierge Experience

Can’t beat rock-bottom big box prices? Competing in an oversaturated market? You’re not alone. Countless retailers are in the same boat…and they’re thriving in the current retail landscape by providing a concierge experience. As the booming subscription economy has shown us, the spectrum of customer motivations doesn’t start at low prices and end at 2-day shipping. Many shoppers crave (and have even come to expect) personalized service and expert guidance from sellers.

Ignoring Millennials Will Cost You

Millennials have become the largest and most powerful consumer group, yet many retailers continue to cater their products to waning generations. Millennial expectations are radically different and sometimes even at odds with the desires of their predecessors. Baby boomers created demand for product qualities that Millennials have started to shun. The latter generation is less concerned with commerciality and wants to think of their purchasing habits as ethical, unique, and eco-friendly. Retailers who fail to adjust their operation and image appropriately risk losing business and becoming irrelevant to a rising generation of consumers.

Post-Apocalyptic Retail

Empty stores and strip malls don’t necessarily foretell doom for online retailers, but they should serve as a warning. Consumer expectations change and eCommerce retailers need to be alert and agile, ready to make any adjustments necessary to meet them. Those that don’t could find their stores going the way of Circuit City.

Learn how to dominate post-apocalyptic retail. Check out our guide for independent retailers, The Retailer Strikes Back.

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