Democratization of Retail

Small and Medium Retailers

Did you know that on Black Friday, 2013, right behind the Amazon juggernaut and eBay, the #3 slot in top sales did not belong to Wal-Mart, Target, or any other big box retailer? Instead it belonged to a huge swath of small and mid-range businesses that used both their online and physical premises to coordinate a small retail boon like no other.

True, a huge amount of the business was driven by online sales, but according to Entrepreneur Magazine, recent studies have shown that it is the combination of brick and mortar location and a well-honed online presence that creates retail success in the 21st century.

No longer can even the big boxes consider their physical and virtual stores as separate.

The savvy business person can benefit from what the “big boys” are learning.

Integrate offline and online experiences

Complete integration of your online and offline business practices will provide you with real-time sales, inventory movement, and labor costs and allow you to be steps, if not entire leaps, ahead of your competition by spotting trends that go viral the instant they occur, or translate a brick and mortar trend to an online sale or feature that will drive business to both your physical and virtual stores.

The Democratization of Retail (from the Entrepreneur article) is a continuing boom for the makers product, particularly small artisans and businesses. Customers increasingly distrust the corporate retail model, preferring instead to eschew franchises in favor of “shopping local.”

The shop local trend expands, however, in the virtual world, to encompass retailers with a local, small business vibe.

The perception is that a boutique shop, virtual or physical, provides a unique product and better service than a large franchise. Customers are willing to search out smaller retailers, and even to pay a slightly higher price, for a more personalized experience and an unusual product.