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Can retail be saved with technology?

As e-commerce is growing and retail shops are taking a hit, do you believe that there is something that can be done to assist retail shops in coping with the increased competition?

Brick and mortar stores can't compete on price with Amazon and other online retailers, since costs are higher (staff, rent etc) so they need another hook, a reason why you should visit. Something like exceptional customer experience or a product selection that can't be found anywhere else.

Do you believe new in-store technology could assist in driving more sales through retail stores or are they just facing a slow death?


5 Replies

David Crooke
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David Crooke Entrepreneur
Serial entrepreneur and CTO
The gap between retail and Amazon seems to have been shrinking a lot .... I've recently bought a couple of appliances from Lowe's, their asking price was the same as Amazon, they do free delivery *and* pickup, and threw in little extras. My new receiver came from Best Buy, same price as Amazon and I had it on the spot when the incumbent died. I'm a motor sport guy and buy a lot of rubber, Discount Tire will match any online vendor for specialist tyres, and offer better warranty and followup services at that rate. And so
Ali Sammour
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Ali Sammour Advisor
Founder at ICE Technologies Inc
Retail shops will never "die" however they are in the process of being "re-birthed". You are soon to begin seeing a migration of online to in-store with more of a collaboration between retailers and merchants and the offers/deals you interact and engage with online being instantly offered to you/matched when onsite or within proximity of a store that carries those items.

As you begin to see a proliferation of IoT sensors deployed in the retail sector and the ubiquitous adoption of mobile in shopping scenarios by consumers (mobile payments, loyalty cards, deals), it will be a natural transition for these large retailers to begin leveraging that big data / CRM and mobile channels aka apps that these consumers will use to participate and search for the products and items they are interested in prior to any trip. That way once a user comes on site they are catered a full list of curated goods they would be interested in seeing since the good is located on site.

You will find the reverse fear of show rooming and more of an embracement of it, allowing these retailers to even follow up with custom and personal offers incentivizing the consumer to purchase the good online if they do not complete the purchase cycle during that trip.

We at ICE Tech (icetech-inc.com) shameless self promo I know : ) - are building that solution and are beginning to roll it out in initial stages with partner locations nationwide.


Daniel Ice
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Daniel Ice Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder at Commerce.io
Retail isn't facing a slow death, it is facing a paradigm shift. During a paradigm shift some companies go out of business. This is especially felt when a large chain, like Borders, closes.

Retail will always exist, but the retail of the past decade will not. E-commerce has increased the competition in the retail space. The increased competition has compressed the margins. The retail stores require a certain level of margin to operate. They will have to come up with a new mix of products or combine products with services to stay competitive. Popup stores and events are an interesting trend.

Logistics is a part of the retail/e-commerce sector that is seeing a lot of development. Allowing retailers to leverage their strengths around physical presence can be powerful. Also, lots of e-commerce born retailers are opening physical stores (Nasty-gal, Bonobos, Warbey Parker), which I think speaks to the power of the channel.
Joe Monastiero
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Joe Monastiero Advisor
CEO, Founder nFlate
IMHO - if a brick and mortar store or chain owner does not embrace technology to its maximum capability, they will fly the way of the dodo. With that being said, adopting new technologies like iBeacons will certainly help.

I believe retail needs to embrace the customer "360" to survive. They need to know who their customer is and what technologies they use to help them make their buying decisions. They'll technically need to address the customer before they get to the store, while they are in it and after they leave. They should be using tech to guide the customer into the store based on proximity triggers and creating purchasing behavior profiles using advanced analytics platforms.

Use of in-store guidance systems to help customers get in and get out (or to guide them to "recommendations" and "specials just for them") should be deployed and activated again using proximity and permissions. Frequently Bought Together items should be flagged once a customer picks up or lingers near a particular product or section.

Not sure if a retailer is going to be viable long -term (maybe 10 years) without a complementary online component, but at the very minimum, they should be embracing all the B&M tech they can to create a compelling shopping experience.
Vanessa Ting
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Vanessa Ting Advisor
Consumer Goods & Retail Consultant. Tech Startup Co-Founder/CEO. Women's Venture Development Leader.
Not so fast.

Don't give up on brick and mortar retailers just yet. Sure, they've been shaken up by the explosive growth of e-commerce. But studies are showing that in-person shopping is still largely preferred by consumers - especially among Millennials who are projected to overtake baby boomers in purchasing power by 2020.

"Here is good news for brick-and-mortar retailers that is actually found on the internet: webrooming. This study found that price matching has helped physical retailers combat showrooming -- when shoppers go online for better prices.

Now web retailers will have to figure out how to compete with physical stores' advantages, including letting shoppers see and touch actual products, make easy returns, and obtain items the same day at no extra charge."


But I agree with you, technology is critical in order for brick and mortar retailers to remain competitive. Technology that creates a seamless omnichannel shopping experience presents the greatest "technology" opportunity for retailers.



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