Website Development – The State of Retail Today
The State Of Retail Today With The Greater Influence of eCommerce
The state of the Canadian retail industry can be more fully explained with historical context. A great shift in Canadian retail began with the opening of box stores and most importantly when USA retail giant Walmart entered Canada with the purchase of the old Woolco stores in 1994. On products available at Walmart, there was downward price pressure on these products for other retailers.
In order to survive retailers could no longer “sit in the middle”. The retail store had to move to great value or unique products and/or upscale brand. Probably the most notable retailer who tried to stay “in the middle” too long was Eatons which went into bankruptcy in 1999.
From about 2000 to 2006 the influence on Canadian retail from the larger category and discounter bricks and mortar retailers continued (online internet sales in Canada was about 3 years behind the USA retailers). The influence of online retailers was primary on unique and hard to find items not carried by the physical store retailers. However in the 4th quarter of 2006 something began to change in Canadian retail and things were about to undergo the greatest shift yet!
The USA was ahead of Canada with internet shopping, however in 2006 Canadians started shopping online. For the physical retailer the competition with the larger discounters and box stores was now accompanied by non-physical “Gorilla warfare” internet stores. There was also an influx of online auction sites like eBay and listing services like Craigslist.
These internet stores and selling sites with little overhead (it can cost $50,000 to $200,000 to leasehold a new store and rents are often $4000 to $20,000 per month for smaller stores) and nimble brand positioning were able to offer unique products, often at a more affordable price then the physical stores. So the physical retailers were now competing against the small nimble online stores and the larger value sellers.
In today’s retail environment, retail stores with a unique proprietary product and brand might be able to still be successful, but other retailers without some type of internet eCommerce presence are going to find their product selling to be threatened by the online stores and discounters on both sides of them.
The good news is that retailers are advantageously poised to sell online. They already have a customer base, products, information about products & hopefully even images. If they operate their online sales out of their store, they can also have their internet operation as with little or no overhead. I have seen stores increase overall sales by 20% with little additional investment.
If you would like to explore more on getting your store online, please follow this link.
eosFirst.com located in Oakville, Ontario. It’s President, Garrett Hall, has brought his own retail store from 70,000 to 7 million dollars in sales over 15 years. He eventually sold his store to a large retail company. He has been using his expertise to help other retailers across North America set up or optimize their online selling ever since.