September 17, 2018
Why is retail becoming a software business? For a few reasons, including:
1. Convenience: It’s easier to shop on your mobile vs drive to the store.
2. Selection: you can search 10,000s of items online.
3. Smarter: you can not only search lots of products, but the software will likely do the ‘thinking’ for you. The major retailers’ software has artificial intelligence to show you the most popular items, the ones with the best reviews, etc. In essence, the software tells you what the best item for you is.
Now, ask yourself—based upon the above, how are indie stores gonna compete in this retail-software environment when:
1. Indie stores often have little or no selection online.
2. Indie stores often don’t have a mobile friendly website.
3. Indie stores often don’t have the artificial intelligence/software to show customers ‘smart’ search results.
On top of this, indies don’t offer the lower prices and same-day delivery that large entities do.
So while an indie store can keep its doors open, it won’t thrive and succeed and grow. It will just survive and exist much like Rochester or any other city left behind from the last era.
How do we prevent indie stores from sinking and being relegated to the ‘digital rust belt’?
Indie stores will need to:
1. Invest in their digital operations. Note: this will mean ‘losing’ money. Most stores balk at losing a dollar. Amazon lost billions for 20 years to get to where it is. Being stingy ain’t gonna cut it.
2. Find solutions to offer 10,000s products online.
3. Find great software that is smart and offers shoppers the same search results accuracy as amazon.
4. Lower prices.
5. Speed up delivery.
6. Likely join a collective, guild, or group that is able to pool resources. Because no indie store can do all of the above on its own.