Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Internet and Stores: Rivals or Partners?

When a store shuts down in my neighbourhood, it saddens me. I have been laid off before. I know the somber feeling in my home when I am out of work. When a chain store shuts down, I feel just as bad. Business is not just about the latest soup or instant coffee. It is about people earning a living. I am at least as concerned about the treatment of workers as I am about the quality of a product.

The internet has changed the retail landscape radically. It is possible to shop on line for the same things that are sold in stores and much more. When I am looking for an East German movie, Norwegian folk rock or Richard Brautigan's poetry that has gone out of print, then the internet is in an irreplaceable position. The old days of pounding the pavement and calling thirty bookstores are gone. Book and music hunting has never been easier.

But if I am shopping for a best seller or a new movie, the internet is in direct competition with the corner store. If you know what you want, nothing beats a company web site for convenience. No longer is the corner clothing store competing with his rival down the street. The competition is right in the customer's living room. We are still adjusting to the new retail landscape in the age of computers. I see the possibility of further changes . These changes can benefit retailers, on line stores and consumers. The technology is there.

Imagine ordering a pair of pants from the GAP or a DVD from Barnes and Noble. Instead of waiting for the item to be shipped, you print out a coupon which states that you have paid for the item. You check on line and confirm that it is in stock at the store around the corner from your work. You stop in on your way home to pick it up. While you are there, you see a handbag you really like, or another movie. Attached to your receipt and pickup slip is a discount coupon for 10% off any purchase over $50.00. You go to the register with the book you already bough on line, plus all the items that caught your eye. Shopping on line netted you a discount coupon. You feel that you did well. The store got a referral. Everybody's happy.

The store in turn would get paid. The bar code on the receipt would facilitate a transfer of money into into the store's account. The web site and the physical store would be working in partnership. Those who like a hands on shopping experience could enhance their shopping with a visit to the company web site.

We have perfected the internet to an astounding degree. We have a lot further to go in developing its potential. Cyber merchants and store front merchants can and should be partners. This would benefit consumers and workers. Everybody can win. Let's make it happen Sphere: Related Content

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