Online price versus offline experience
The raging debate over online shopping continues, and it's really quite a polarising issue.
Every shopper loves the "wonderful online shopping thing", as it offers great service, wider choice and lower prices for the things we want and need.
However, in our next breath, we don't want the things that we sell for a living, the things that we sell to keep us in a job, to be "attacked" by this "terrible online shopping thing".
So if we worked in a bookstore, we love online shopping for clothes, but hate online shopping for books. If we work in a clothing store we love online shopping for books, but hate online shopping for clothes.
This is similar to banana growers in Queensland wanting cheaper boots and equipment for the farm and clothes for their family, but not wanting us to be able to import lower priced foreign bananas.
It is an especially tough balancing act. One of the guys I work with, Andy Kirk, CROSSMARK's very literary and entertaining operations director for Australia and New Zealand, captured this beautifully in his prose below:
The announcement from the Borders Group chain in the US that it will close all of its remaining stores in the US is the latest example of a large retailer closing its doors and citing the growth of online shopping as a major contributing factor. This is just like music retailers HMV, Virgin or Tower Records in the UK or Angus and Robertson in Australia.
This week was my nephews 13th birthday. He lives in Liverpool, England and is clearly too young to go looting for his own birthday presents. So as usual he relied on friends and family, and this led to a small problem.
Problem: Uncle lives in Sydney and forgot about the nephew's birthday until 24 hours after the event.
Solution: Uncle jumps online, chooses from a plethora of PS3 games and pays extra for fast tracked 24-hour delivery. The transaction was done in 10 minutes, including the time taken checking out a few reviews of recent games. The website even offered a birthday card to go along with the gift.
Outcome: Despite being 17,000 kilometres away, the Sydney-based uncle remains the relative of choice for the teenage boy.
So what does this tell me? Does this mean I'll be purchasing everything online?
No. I still want to lie on a mattress before buying one, but it is becoming easier and more attractive to shop from the comfort of your own sofa (which I'd still go into a store to try out first).
The whole experience left me with two questions. Firstly, how will games retailers avoid the same fate we have seen with many record stores or bookshops?
Secondly, if these physical stores disappear, how will this affect me? If I can get it online more easily and for a cheaper price, will I really care if the bricks and mortar store is still there?
With apologies to Martin Niemöller...
First they came for the record shops... and I didn't mind, because I got a better price and more choice, with greater convenience.
Then they came for the video stores... and I didn't mind, because I got a better price and more choice, with greater convenience.
Then they came for the bookstores... and I didn't mind, because I got a better price and more choice, with greater convenience.
What will be next? And will you care about it?
Deep stuff. I told you he was literary!
In his role as CEO of CROSSMARK, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia, NZ, the US and Europe. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for business in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands. CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia's largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia's biggest retailers and manufacturers.