As 2013 approaches, many independent retailers are wondering what lies ahead in the industry. Ben T. Smith IV, CEO of Wanderful Media, a new digital local discovery shopping company, offers the following predictions, based on conversations with media partners, industry experts and Wanderful Media customers.
Amazon will launch retail stores. In its effort to become the world’s one-stop shop, Amazon is extending its reach by rolling out local and specialized channels as well as offers such as same-day delivery and its local merchandise pick-up locations. The next logical step will be actual retail stores.
Same-day delivery from retail stores will become commonplace in major metros. In an effort to compete with physical retailers, e-commerce sites and the “bricks and clicks” retailers that offer both online and offline sales will provide same-day delivery. The thinking behind this same-day delivery strategy is to provide the best of both worlds for online shoppers, lower prices and bigger selection, and receiving their purchases the same day.
eBay will emerge as an important local retail company. This will come in multiple forms, one being eBay’s interest in regional shoppers. eBay Now, which boasts product shipments to customers about an hour after the online order, is currently only available in San Francisco but has plans to expand all over California and in New York City. In 2013, eBay will offer customers discounts to local merchants based on what is purchased online and will continue executing on the idea of delivering a local shopping experience.
More big retail stores will have chain specific bar codes to combat the negative impact from the showrooming effect. Research shows that more than half of shoppers intend to engage in showrooming. Another 27 percent reported they would likely make purchases online with their smartphones and tablets while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. This year, however, some retailers will deploy technology to try and capture those transactions at their own registers by replacing standard bar codes with innovative chain-specific codes that cannot be scanned by smart phones.
Daily Deals will emerge from the penalty box as a viable business model. Daily Deal sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, will evolve as a profitable business model, and demonstrate an ability to expand sales and profits, despite going through a rough patch this year. Groupon has been stung by worries over accounting, the long-term viability of the business and less than stellar quarter-over-quarter results. LivingSocial also saw a sequential decline in third-quarter revenue.
“In the year ahead, the retail, e-commerce and media markets are going to undergo an even greater shift than in recent years,” comments Ben T. Smith, IV, CEO of Wanderful Media. “As the dust settles, new business models and retail leaders will emerge driven both by technology trends including mobile and social networking, and cultural trends, heralding the anticipated return to high-touch shopping and local customer engagement.”