commit: fb200d8 - #595 (2014-04-14 00:44:57 -0400)
Thanks for the share Chris. I'd love to hear peoples comments on this topic. Are the press too quick to jump to competition from the web/ecommerce?
It's a touchy subject here in the UK. This is how I see it:
Not so long ago, people were complaining about supermarkets and retail outlets, because they took people away from the high street. Now, people are blaming the net because it is taking people away from those same retail outlets.
Behind both of these moves? Consumer demand. And that's the driving force for business collapsing, not new advents.
People didn't want to trudge around a high street in the freezing cold, going from shop A at one end to shop B on the other. So, we (us, government, corps - with admittedly varying degrees of influence) built indoor outlets, so people could find everything quickly, stay warm and dry while doing so and also grab a bite to eat while they're there, with their cars safely parked away.
Now we have e-commerce that has come on leaps and bounds and solves even more problems for people. I'll use an example - myself. I work in Central London, with my working hours starting at 8 and roughly finishing at 6, with about 45 minutes each way for travel. I don't want to trudge off to Westfield or Oxford Street after work. Do I want to do it on a Saturday? Do I bollocks! Have you seen those places on the weekend? Plus, it's my only time to relax and there's plenty of rugby to be watched!
But I need to shop. My trousers are literally falling to bits. So I'm going to do it online. I can check out video content of some chap wearing the troosers to see if they're the right style (I'm not a fussy man, ladies). I can order to my size, get it delivered to where I want, on the day I want, even at the time I want now, I can get a cheaper price online, further online discounts and loyalty schemes, I can be informed if there's a sale on the go.
Now, here's the kicker: E-commerce offers so much - would I get the same level of customer service on the high street? In most cases, no. I wouldn't. I actually feel better looked after when I shop online, for most cases.
Of course, there are exceptions. I love going to butchers and getting better quality meat from locally sourced farms. I pay quite a lot more, but I want to help the process for those business. The fact remains, however, that for the most part I feel better looked after and served as a consumer online then I do offline. It's much more convenient, it's cheaper and I'm kept in the loop.
There are a number of examples of companies that made the shift from high street to online and made it a big success for them (for the US Inbounders, Walmart is arguably one of them). But I don't believe other companies or "market commentators" (give me a break) have the right to blame the internet and ecommerce for the death of the high-street, as that is where consumer demand is going. And it's going there because of the innovation and improvement of customer service. The blame doesn't lie with the consumer, either. Unfortunately, most of the blame for the collapse of a high street store is down to poor management - of which, failure to embrace e-commerce effectively is probably chief among the mistakes made.
Just my 2 copper.