Just recently, Business Insider published “The Retail Apocalypse has Officially Descended on America” amplified by “The Haunting Photos of the Retail Apocalypse reveal a New Normal in America.” The articles went viral garnering over 7.5M in engagement! Naturally, this caused some stir and left people nodding their heads in agreement.
But just this month, Forbes published a counter article saying all these reports are baloney.
So what’s the real deal?
Yes, stores have been closing down such as Macy’s, JC Penney, and Rue 21. Other major brands such as American Apparel, BCBG and Payless have also filed for bankruptcy. Recent years have been undeniably tough for retailers. We see two major reasons why.
1. Convenience of Online Shopping
As we already know, people nowadays want everything quick and easy. Doing a few clicks online and having the luxury of your purchased item delivered right at your doorstep sound like heaven to most of today’s shoppers. This convenience partnered with the increasing smartphone usage make it so easy for M-commerce to reign. In fact, there are 4.9 Billion unique smartphone users worldwide and locally, 6 out of 10 Filipinos own a smartphone.
Check out chart below to see the growth of mobile commerce.
2. Retail Industry took technology for granted
Coming from the retail industry myself, I could sadly attest to this. Most fast-fashion brands are obsessing on influencer marketing when everyone else is already doing it. They shy away from digital marketing solutions such as programmatic advertising, location-based SMS (LBS) and Beacons only because it’s new to them, when in fact, these solutions have been available for a good number of years.
Their target audience demand something unique, fast and convenient. And failing to meet this demand may cause decline in sales and worse, trigger stores to close down.
If you want your brand to skip retail apocalypse, you can’t stay status quo. Up your game and venture on something they have not yet done before.
Here’s when Conversational Commerce comes to play
As defined by Chris Messina who coined the term, “conversational commerce largely pertains to utilizing chat, messaging, or other natural language interfaces (i.e. voice) to interact with people, brands, or services and bots that heretofore have had no real place in the bidirectional, asynchronous messaging context.” Simply put, it’s time to empower retail brands with AI-powered chatbots.
Statistics show that people are starting to prefer uninterrupted silent communication rather than personal store visit or phone calls.
Provided the massive unique users of these messenger apps, forward-thinking companies have already tapped these platforms as a way to communicate with their customers. They use chatbots to deepen their relationship with their target market and provide seamless shopping experience. See example below:
As you can see, consumer’s shopping journey started and ended seamlessly in a chat. Chatbots are able to research specific customer requests, provide personalized recommendations, and assist on the spot purchasing all in real time. The brand via chatbots instantly responds and gives the customer streamlined options making it an excellent customer sales experience.
According to a Baymard Institute study, 68% of online shopping carts are abandoned due to the following reasons: Need to register an account, payment security system, lack of customer and technical support, and slow-loading websites. This, and the fact that people are most active in messenger apps, make Conversational Commerce the biggest gift to retail.
Handling retail brands? Cease the Buy 1 Take 1 in store promotions and invest on giving your customers the best customer sales experience, yet.
Rosenblum, P. (2017, May 01) Five Reasons Why ‘The Retail Apocalypse’ Is A False Scare Story Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/paularosenblum/2017/05/01/five-reasons-why-the-retail-apocalypse-is-a-red-herring/#1051071161fa
Thompson, D. (2017, April 10) What in the World is Causing the Retail Meltdown of 2017? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/retail-meltdown-of-2017/522384/
Bloom,C. Conversational Commerce : The Future has Arrived Retrieved from https://www.yotpo.com/blog/conversational-commerce/
Frederick, J. Chatbots and Conversational Commerce. Retrieved from http://www.pfsweb.com/blog/chatbots-and-conversational-commerce/
Golkar, G. (2016, July 06) How Conversational Commerce will Transform the Sales Experience Retrieved from http://www.vocalcom.com/en/blog/conversational-commerce/how-conversational-commerce-will-transform-the-sales-experience/