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Changing face of retail January 20, 2012

Posted by Mark Hillary in Current Affairs, Internet.
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Everyone knows the retail environment is changing. Those of us who can remember the heady days of the 1990s will recall that clicks were supposed to entirely replace bricks at one point – Amazon was predicted to spell the end of the traditional bookstore.

And though many retailers are struggling today, it has more to do with the economy in general than the Internet stealing their business forever. But the smartest retailers are finding ways to combine the best of the online experience with the service that can only be delivered on the high street.

Sometimes you want to see and touch a product before buying it. Perhaps it is a big investment, so you want to try it out first. This is why camera chains like Jessops have always prided themselves on having staff that know about the products they sell – you get a bit of free consulting every time you go into a branch to ask a few questions.

But these days many customers are coming in to look and feel a product before going away to think about the purchase, only to go online scouring the web using price comparison sites. High-priced items such as electronics can almost always be found cheaper from discount retailers.

Retailers like Argos and John Lewis are trying to combine the best of the web with a real in-store or added value experience that combines old-fashioned retail with the bulk discounts available from buying and distributing centrally.

I personally would be prepared to pay more for a product from John Lewis, knowing I have the backup of a reputable brand, and the ability to buy online, but be treated as a customer in-store too. The question is, how much more… the odd per cent here and there maybe, but what if the difference was 25 per cent?

That’s a tough decision, but I’m sure the major retailers are already thinking about this. They had better be.

貪吃danbo

Photo by Sindy licensed under Creative Commons

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