Friday, October 24, 2014

Amazon vs. Brick and Mortar

Builder and Fixer David Otani
 “Who is your competition?” This is a question I ask my retail customers and typically they respond with a few different company names, but rarely do they respond with Amazon.  Amazon’s ability to provide great pricing, critical product information including customer reviews, and deliver within a short period of time is the new standard for customer service. Retailers who cannot provide the same level of excellent service along with a great tactile experience which Amazon cannot do, will not succeed in retailing in the future.

Retailers, in general, are late to the technology party.  They are imbedded with legacy systems that were costly to deploy and now painful to write off.  That said, if retailers want to compete and stay relevant, they will have to improve their systems to provide the consumer with more information and keep track of their consumer’s activities across multiple channels.

The cost to garner a sale in brick and mortar is exponentially more expensive than on the web. However, a brick and mortar provides a tangible experience with immediate gratification that the web cannot. A brick and mortar shopping experience can include customer interaction, the ability to touch and feel a product and, of course, the option to leisurely browse the aisles of whatever products or displays that catch their eye.  Additionally, brick and mortar provides a branded experience that no third party re-seller can ever provide.

There will always be a place for brick and mortar in the retail world. This doesn’t mean the consumer will view brick and mortar with a different set of lenses. If anything, the consumer will expect more from brick and mortar because of the face to face customer experience. Therefore, brick and mortar should be determining the customer service standard, not Amazon.

 David Otani has been a retailer for over 25 years, opened over 300 stores and has held executive level positions as a general manager, planner, merchant, and real estate / construction director. David’s passion for retailing has allowed him to be part of many success stories, both new ventures as well as turnarounds.
Additionally, David lectures at FIT semi-annually, runs a Judo school, and is currently ranked number one in the U.S. in Judo in the masters division.