Leon de Leeuw
The Future Of Retail
In this time of technological progress, plenty of assets of life have become more convenient. No more sending letters to companies and waiting endlessly for a response, sending a tweet will prove to be sufficient. Ordering products online has never been easier, you can even read reviews written by, for example, your friends. Order any book online and chances may be that if you order it before midnight, it will be delivered next morning. Retail seems to be getting more technologically-driven. Not only for customers change is inevitable, especially the supply chain will go through some immense changes in the couple of next years.
It has become time for businesses to grow accustomed to the demand of customers, who have gotten used to ordering products and having them delivered quickly anywhere they wish. Shopping has, until now, in particular been an experience. Leaving home early for some window-shopping, having a cup of coffee while discussing that nice pair of shoes with friends and most probably buying it afterwards. Nowadays, the customer can just go to the store to fit the shoe and meanwhile order it online – probably even cheaper than in the store. If he does not like the pair of shoes after all, he may even return the purchase free of charge. Shopping has become more mission-based. It will always remain an experience to try on a shoe and feel if it truly fits, though the process of actually buying the item has changed for good. The customer has become hybrid and will continue choosing for his own convenience. Trying on a pair of shoes is fine, getting them cheaper online from another company is even better.
The process of, let's say, getting a pair of shoes from the manufacturer to the customer will completely transform over the next few years. Brick-and-mortar retailers will continue to exist, though be it in a different manner. The way I feel it, the current structure of the supply chain will be blown up by cutting out the middlemen and ordering products directly from the supplier. Why not order shoes directly from the warehouse? Wait, why bother, the customer can even purchase them directly from the manufacturer! The most progressive company, dealing with the supply chain in a dynamic way, must be Amazon. Come to think of small bookstores or boutiques selling household items, all will be redundant any time soon. In Britain, Amazon is succeeding already, leaving city high streets empty while people keep ordering online while sipping coffee in their comfortable homes. Amazon is planning to create city hubs, massive warehouses where products are stored. There are even plans to deliver products in an hour! No denying of the fact, this is the way major companies will take over small retailers!
While stores will remain open for the time being, I believe they'd better get involved and take their market share online before it will be too late. Instead of keeping stock in all of their stores, they could also open up centrally located warehouses to cut transport costs. Still, it is advisable to keep some showroom models, like shoes, for customers just so they can be 'experienced'. While being in the store, it must be possible to order the shoes of desire right away and receiving them at home. Eventually, products will not have to be transported all over countries to lie back in the store but could remain in the same place waiting to be ordered online. This will prove to be a more sustainable and convenient way of doing business – not to forget how it will cut back costs.
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