As consumers increasingly move online, traditional retailers are struggling. These technologies will help.
Despite the fact that the economy is strong and American consumers are shopping in full force, traditional brick-and-mortar retailers across the United States are continuing their nosedives into bankruptcy.
This so-called “retail apocalypse” began in 2016 when major retailers began shuttering their brick-and-mortar locations by the thousands. Sears has fewer than a third the number of retail stores it had ten years ago. Walmart just closed 63 Sam’s Club stores. Macy’s closed 68 stores last year and J.C. Penney closed more than 100. Payless filed for bankruptcy, and half of the malls in the U.S. are predicted to close by 2023. To date, 4,000 physical stores have been affected and another 6,800 will close in 2018—more closures than we’ve seen since the recession ten years ago.
Why? Because Americans continue to do more and more shopping online. The figure has been creeping up every year, and now consumers do more than half of their shopping online.
Unsurprisingly, Amazon is the biggest beneficiary of this trend. Morgan Stanley just predicted that Amazon could become the world’s first company worth $1 trillion —and it’s already achieved more than double the market value of Walmart.
Indeed, by 2021 Amazon is projected to make up half of the online marketplace.
Retailers may well feel like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but all is not lost. Here are a few tips to stave off the apocalypse.
Get Seamless Across Devices
If you’re a 21st-century retailer, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you already have a website up and running that provides an amazing shopping experience for your customers regardless of whether they are using traditional desktop computers or mobile devices.
But you may not realize just how critical it is that your website loads quickly, and is easy and intuitive to use. A study from digital performance management company SOASTA found that optimal load time to achieve peak conversion and revenue ranged by device from 1.8 to 2.7 seconds. Google found that more than half of mobile site visitors will leave a page that fails to load in three seconds.
Gabriel Coelho-Kostolny, Director of Product Marketing at digital experience company Instart Logic, says that to maximize revenue, retailers should focus on delivering a beautiful experience that is also reliably fast. The website must adapt gracefully to different browsers, device types, networks and screen sizes, providing the best possible experience for every customer.
“Tools like Blue Triangle and SOASTA help retailers measure their customers’ experiences while digital experience management platforms like Instart Logic make those experiences better,” says Coelho-Kostolny. “The most important thing is that a retail site is beautiful, easy and intuitive to use, and fast—we process 12 billion transactions per day, so we can see clearly that site performance and conversion are directly related.”