Retail’s Great Digital Divide

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I’ve come away from the last 2 weeks of mega retail events (NRF14 and OR14) with a very clear impression—there is an ever-widening crevasse forming between retailers and their frenemies in manufacturing. In fact, retail’s great divide keeps growing.

How do I know this to be true?  One word: Amazon.

Today’s consumers seek the experience to shop, but the Internet to purchase.

It’s not to say that Amazon will be the only one to cross retail’s great divide, but instead, that their model of innovation and effortless experience is something that manufacturers can no longer ignore.

Costs are significant. They make these investments in order to create, build and sell products through a remarkably inefficient, overhead-burdened retail channel. Yet, as Doug Stephen’s article “The end of the beginning of e-commerce” states, online consumption has topped 1.2 trillion!

Why make the move to retail online?

Today’s digital-savvy consumers and their ever-growing preference to shop online is all of the justification manufacturers need to take their share of the market – direct.

Online stores will become a point of digital collaboration and transaction, while manufacturers logos will grace the front of redesigned storefronts. Outlets where 100% of their merchandise will be on display to touch, feel, and try—all of it hot-wired to the net.

No salespeople will run these retail stores. Instead, product experts and domain professionals who add value to the socially simulative environment will be there to help you. They will come complete with Facebook and Twitter enabled gatherings used to evolve the forum beyond big box display cases, and into an interactive human-rich-community. That’s how you’ll cross retail’s great divide.

Not all manufacturers will offer such outlets. Commodity transactions will remain on Amazon-like-platforms, while luxury brands and their upscale offerings will integrate “social stores” with sexy online experiences; boasting services like personal assist, synchronous shopping, and interactive agent video.

One more proof point

I’ll conclude with a friend’s thought-provoking Facebook post , one that left me listening for the echo’s of laggards falling into this ever-widening digital divide.

“I have been consumed by Amazon. After they sent us an Amazon Fresh delivery of goods in a beautiful Amazon Fresh Bag, I have signed up. I have also lost a many year battle and finally signed up for an Amazon visa card. I just ordered everything we need from a grocery store, plus more of course because it is so cool. I might never again see Costco or Safeway. I have also ordered about 40 books on my kindle in the last year and I now only buy videos from Amazon. I am now totally involved. These guys are so good, it’s crazy.”

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About Glance Networks

Glance helps enterprise organizations create the ultimate customer experience with smart, omni-channel visual engagement solutions based around integrated cobrowse, screen share, and one-way agent video. We are one of the world’s simplest, most reliable and secure platforms that enable companies to see, show and share anything online, creating a frictionless path to great experiences in sales, support and customer service. The result is improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, increased revenue growth and operational savings. From financial services and healthcare to retail and travel and leisure, even the most advanced technology and SaaS organizations – we transform the customer experience for today’s business. Learn More »

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