Combining seamless transaction technology and local convenience to reposition your brand and win within your competitive local and regional landscape.
I believe this ever-growing on-demand economy presents tremendous opportunity…and I’m betting my company’s future on it.
This question has driven me for the last thirty-six months with nearly every product development decision I’ve made. The way I see it, the nearly 4000 retail locations that use my company’s technology are heading toward an epic battle with Amazon. The lines between your brick & mortar stores and the digital web-shopping world are quickly disappearing. At the core of this consumer driven change is the ever-growing population of the digital native, the consumer demographic steeped in the culture of social media and the habit-forming instant gratification of web buying. I believe this ever-growing on-demand economy actually presents tremendous opportunity for local and regional retailers, and I’m betting my company’s future on it.
We’ve been here before. We saw how Walmart used technology to overwhelm Kmart’s massive dominance. The short story is simple: when Kmart moved to confront Walmart with matching pricing, it was too little too late. Walmart had already built commonsense technology systems that drove every wasted penny out of their cost structure, making them the lowest cost supplier to consumers. Sam Walton was brilliant in his simplicity of solutions to everyday business waste. At the heart of each Walmart initiative was commonsense technology but also a willingness to quickly deploy and fully exploit it.
This is true even today; with the recent purchase of Jet.com, we see Walmart quickly maneuvering to combine web and store locality, in an attempt to block Amazon, and to meet customers when and where they want to transact. This is also apparent in the 2012 introduction of Walmart’s Pay with Cash for Online purchases, where the POS system and the web system interact to complete a cash based online purchase.
My point is this: if you’re a local or regional retailer, you have what Amazon wants, which is location, location, location.
But Walmart is not our biggest concern, is it? Instead, we see Amazon building escape orbit velocity, by injecting commonsense technology at every touch point of the consumer transaction. We like to call it frictionless transactions. Amazon makes it so easy to buy from them that we become almost addicted to clicking the button one day and the merchandise arriving the next. But therein lies the opportunity; the silver lining. Next day is just not good enough and Amazon knows it. Indeed, the media today is abuzz about Amazon’s lust for placing grocery store locations near you, to facilitate local same-hour delivery or curbside pickup.
My point is this: if you’re a local or regional grocery store, health food store, specialty food, pharmacy or even a food cooperative, you have what Amazon wants, which is location, location, location. But location alone can’t win against Amazon. No, your final coup de gráce will come when you deploy technology that makes buying at your stores, or ordering online for store pickup or same hour delivery, easier than when your customers do the same type of transaction with Amazon. But just any POS or decoupled web ordering system won’t cut it this time.
To stay in this game, you need to combine a seamless and unified web and store transaction experience, with same hour or day locality, that leaves you with powerful business leverage that even Amazon will come to envy. So the answer to our original question is really both. Without seamless, frictionless transaction technology, Amazon wouldn’t be Amazon. Stay in the game; reposition your brand through a seamless and unified transaction technology, and become the surprise local insurgent winner in this brave new digital retail world.