It’s hardly news that people are doing more and more shopping online. The growth of Amazon is only one part of this story. Amazon has some serious competition with fellow giants Walmart and Alibaba. Meanwhile, lots of smaller innovative retailers such as Zappos, Warby Parker, and Harry’s Razors (which was just recently bought by Schick) are claiming their space in niche markets.
While it’s easy to focus on e-commerce as a separate arena that’s eating up and replacing traditional retail, the truth is more complicated. People still like to go out and shop in person. Just as online shoppers like to visit brick and mortar stores, so customers of mainstream retail brands also like the option of shopping online. Let’s look at some examples, both successes and failures, of how retail and online shopping are merging.
One of the companies that has done the most in merging the online and in-store experience for customers is Sephora. The beauty products company has taken this approach to an extreme, merging its digital and physical retail teams.
Sephora has a sophisticated app that lets in-store shoppers easily access important information about products. The app even includes an AI feature that lets customer see how products such as makeup will look on them. As an article in Digiday explains, one benefit of merging digital and brick and mortar teams is that they now work together instead of competing against each other.
The discount eyeglasses company Warby Parker started online but began opening physical stores in 2013. Warby Parker has an app that measures customers’ faces for fitting glasses, is on the leading edge of online retail. However, it also recognizes that customers like the personal service they can get in stores.
Asia’s online giant is quickly making inroads into traditional retail, opening physical locations in China. People can browse these stores in person and arrange with their smartphones to have products delivered.