On Black Friday this year, brick and mortar sales totaled $11.4 billion, the largest amount ever spent on the shopping holiday.
Online sales the same day were $816 million, only 7% the volume of in-store sales.
As often as writers, analysts and industry observers imply that brick and mortar retail is a dying model, I sure don’t see much evidence of that. It’s growing and still composes a large majority of total sales.
Compare this to print newspapers, which are closing left and right. Even the lucky ones that survive still have to drastically cut staff.
But the fact that brick and mortar retail is still going strong doesn’t mean it’s not changing.
The New Point-of-Sale
The other day, I used the internet to find reviews of a product, as well as compare prices across retailers. I watched a video in which a blogger demonstrated the product’s features, as well as its flaws. I thought I had received a coupon for a discount on this product in my email. And it turns out I had!
All of these discoveries took place while standing in the store, holding the product in my hand. (It was a video game.)
Welcome to mobile point-of-sale. (Mobile POS)
Mobile POS combines the information afforded by the internet with the convenience of being able to see the product up close and walk out of the store with it. (After paying, of course.)
The Future of Retail Is Here
Mobile can be applied in-store to enhance the information printed on products with videos, interactive guides and more.
It can equip the store’s staff with powerful tools that can provide information and even facilitate credit card payments, all on the sales floor.
It can supply the store with data on the customer that allows staff to create a customized experience.
It can allow coupons to be saved for later or pulled out of the file and used to make a purchase.
It can allow customers to field opinions from their friends, or from strangers, while trying on new clothes or looking at potential haircuts.
It can even replace your wallet and credit card.
Everything’s Better With the Web
Note that all of these examples are ways that the internet can enhance activities that you do in-store.
The web isn’t replacing retail. It’s improving it.
And that is the big potential of the internet. Not to swap out the digital for the analog, but to combine them, giving shoppers the best possible set of options and capabilities.
After all, $11 billion in sales doesn’t happen by accident.
Greg Steen, 12.07.2011