There isn’t a week that goes by without the news of a high street retailer being in trouble. From fashion chains to iconic toy stores and electronics shops, no one seems to be safe. The common contributing factors that are being mentioned are declining consumer buying power or confidence and the unstoppable growth of online shopping. In most cases, people will point to Amazon and eBay as preferred destinations for consumers. And although the decline of these businesses will have a human impact that shouldn’t be taken lightly, there is a very real realisation in their decline that consumers will want what they want. Businesses must adapt, improvise, and overcome to be relevant in an online world.
Here are some examples of how companies have done just that:
Fashion and beauty brands have been making most of the opportunity. Most fashion and beauty brands caught on quickly that online makes it possible to connect with consumers more directly and rapidly. Subscription box services such as Birchbox and Glossybox have jumped in on that principle. You can try out a wide range of beauty products from the comfort of your own home. Every month it’s a little surprise and treasure hunt in one. And once you love a specific product, in most cases beauty brands will have a way to purchase their products from their site directly.
The entertainment industry had to adapt. When was the last time you set foot in a CD or DVD store? High streets used to be littered with these type of stores, but now HMV seems more a memorabilia shop. Listening to music and watching films now seem endlessly more convenient streaming them from services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Netflix. Sharing a song is a few clicks away, and when you talk to your friends about a great show you are watching, the barrier for them to also give that show a try is infinitely lower.
The internet not only makes things more convenient, but it also gives us more knowledge and therefore more confidence. A quick spot of online research before visiting that new restaurant, buying your new vacuum cleaner, or booking that holiday can take away some anxiety and make the whole experience a lot more fun. Just imagine you had to buy a new car without a parent, partner or friend who is a petrolhead and you could only understand what was available by physically visiting car dealerships.
Another way the internet has innovated in the consumer’s best interest is by challenging traditional business models. In some cases that comes with quite some nostalgia, such as the demise of Blockbuster video stores or things such as the Yellow Pages. In other cases, it comes with the realisation that things were extremely cumbersome before. Take estate agents for example. Selling your house is such an essential thing to ‘experiment’ with, but fees from traditional estate agents are significant enough to consider it. Traditional estate agents are disappearing, and more online estate agents are popping up must be a sign of things to come. In some ways, you need to be wary of industries that have not moved an inch over the last few decades.
We have let the internet permeate in pretty much every aspect of our lives; we might as well get ready to let go of business models we thought were indestructible.