How Amazon Continues to Disrupt the Retail World
Cowen analysts have predicted that Amazon will unseat Macy’s as the leading apparel retailer in the US by 2017. The online retail giant has topped Walmart’s value by $30B already, with a $265B valuation. Well, brick-and-mortars are not going down without a fight. For instance, Macy’s is upping its omni-channel game to stay ahead of the pack, Forbes reports. It announced last week that it’s expanding its same-day delivery to Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Miami/Fort Lauderdale, New York City/Western Long Island, Orange County and Philadelphia, for a total of 17 markets.
Meanwhile, Walmart is testing an online grocery pick-up service. Lee Peterson, EVP of brand, strategy and design at WD Partners, believes the convenience of having someone put your items in your trunk is something that could give brick-and-mortar retailers a leg up over online retailers, because customers can just stop by on the way home from work. Naturally, your mileage may vary depending on how car-friendly your city is.
Even in the world of online retail, Amazon is learning that objects in the rearview mirror are often closer than they appear. Innovative online retailers like SmarterHQ and Jet.com are gearing up, introducing technologies that could be game changers. SmarterHQ takes on-site messaging to the next level, using contextualized data, descriptive model scores and predictive modeling to make real-time suggestions for customers as they navigate the site, Forbes reports. E-commerce sites like Amazon have been employing on-site messaging for years, but not like this. Meanwhile, Jet.com is using a subscription service to offer discounts on popular apparel. (It is worth noting that Jet.com is experiencing some controversy, as Inc.com reports. Some brands have pulled out after discovering they were listed on the site without permission.)
Yet, a brand-new startup called Shoe Drop, could reintroduce a personal touch to the world of apps, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. Founders Duncan Davis and Brandon Labrum have hired specialized cobblers for their business, which hopes to rejuvenate the cobbler industry and bridge the gap between modern convenience and old-world quality. The app connects customers with roughly 50 partnered Chicago locations, then allows them to describe their shoes and select a service. Amazon is innovating in other areas like the online delivery model. The retail giant is apparently working on a drive-up store concept in California, where shoppers can pick up their online orders. Its Web Services division also recently launched a cloud-based analytics service called Amazon Machine Learning.
All this vying for attention is only good news for us, as retailers look to make the shopping experience more convenient and engaging. Here are a few tech trends to look out for in the near future:
- Expect to see more selling of products on social media, not just advertising and engaging.
- POS (point-of-sale) technology; think Starbucks’ new mobile pay app.
- More beacons for analytics and marketing strategies.
- Wearables, like smartwatches and FitBits.
- Augmented Reality, like virtual fitting rooms and interactive displays. Walgreens is working on using Google’s Project Tango 3D for mobile apps, Vendhq reports.
- 3D printing.
- Showrooming—where stores will serve as more of a museum to display products for customers to learn about products in a fun way.