As I sit here writing this, eCommerce is all the rage, despite contributing only about 6-7% of purchases. The other 90%+ of purchases take place in a brick and mortar store, known as retail. While this is a humbling fact to those incredibly bullish on eCommerce (me being one of those), the death of retail is a bit pre-mature. However, there are fundamentals of the eCommerce experience that the retail environment should really think about, to improve the process.
Let’s face it, the retail experience kind of sucks. Waiting in lines, trudging through racks and racks of clothes hoping to find your size. After you fish through endless racks to find your product, you are ready to give your hard earned money to the retail store. You get ready to checkout and then without warning…. you have 30 people waiting to check out as well. Yet all of the consumers waiting in line have a device in their pocket 1,000 times more powerful then the registers they are about to hand a payment method.
What I find completely interesting and quite ironic about the whole experience is that any of the people waiting in line could pull out their smartphones, go onto the retailer’s website and purchase the exact same good, at most likely the same price, delivered free to their home. Yet, they are choosing to wait in line, all in the name of instant gratification. As a consumer base, we are just not ready for the 100% no-touch methodology of eCommerce, despite its ease of use and limitless benefits.
This is more than just hard goods such as clothing, furniture, toiletries, and entertainment that have consumers waiting in lengthy lines at retail, but the single biggest waste of our time in retail, the grocery store.
What is incredibly frustrating about the retail experience is that lines appears to be feast and famine, which makes it difficult for retailers to staff accordingly. When everyone wants to checkout, there are 2 cashiers, but when everyone is browsing 5 are available and doing nothing. Ugh!!
But I think that I might have a hypothesis on what could be the next big thing for retail and actually eliminate most lines completely and actually doesn’t require almost ANY technology.
The Birth of rCommerce
Why couldn’t we go to stores, wade through the racks and shelves, pick out what we want, and when we are ready to purchase, just grab our phone and checkout.
Think about it, almost every retailer you shop in has a mobile application, or at least a website. With technology available such as Square and Paypal, available as payment gateways for those websites, couldn’t we just enter the same items into our online cart, make a purchase, and walk out. This is basically Sam’s Club meets eCommerce. You pile what you want in your physical cart, add it to your online cart, complete your purchase online and when you leave, there is someone to check your cart. This person receives a printed receipt of your checkout (or up on the screen), confirm the items in your cart and allow you to leave.
Why couldn’t this work? Let me be the antagonist here.
- People would steal: Losses happen everyday in regular retail transactions, but if you add the confirmation employees at the exit to confirm purchase, you reduce some of that. Eventually, technology should get to a place where it confirms purchase without human interaction.
- People would still want to buy from a cashier: People enjoy lines? Why so they can all be in misery… nope. Lowest common denominator.
- People aren’t comfortable buying on their phones: This is true in the exact time I am writing this, but I sense that will change.
- eCommerce and Retail Operations are very siloed in retailers today: Again, this is true but progressive retailers such as Walmart will understand a true omnichannel approach with unified inventory, in which retail stores act as a warehouse for both eCommerce and retail transactions.
Because we already have eCommerce and mCommerce, I needed to think of something and rCommerce (even though it is lame) was born.
What do you think? Is this concept something you feel is viable?