Retailer brand does not seem to make a large difference now in the marke that consumers are creating to shop and purchase. Product brand definitely makes a difference and consumers do react to product brand, however I don’t see that consumers care much whether they purchase from one retailer or another. I seems to me that we are moving from a retail brand market focus to a product brand market focus. Consumers have come to realize that the outlet from which they purchase is less important than the product they are purchasing. This is a dramatic shift from that past and is brought about by the changes in technology that the consumer has embraced to enhance their shopping and purchasing practices.
Retailers are struggling with this realization to find their way in this new marketplace that is very fluid in the manner in which consumers interact and react with retailers for their shopping and purchasing. I see that consumers care about 3 things shopping and purchasing:
- Reputation of the retailer outlet for standing behind the sale and and after-sale support for resolving any issues.
- Availability of the project and ease of purchase
- Cost of the product as it relates to other outlets, it must be a reasonable price when combined with the other considerations.
I think that major retailer brands are having difficulty accepting these considerations and the results of this struggle are reduced sales and market share. A good example of this is the brief sales strategy change made by JC Penney to eliminate the focus on special sales prices and go to an everyday low price. They found out that consumers expected the sales pricing and assumed they could find better pricing elsewhere without most consumers giving the new strategy a chance.
Retailers must focus on service, reputation and availability of product to make the consumer shopping experience as seamless and simple as possible in order to survive in this new marketplace. They must focus on product brand and build their strategy around simplicity of shopping and purchase delivery rather than simply on the sale. The entry of Amazon into the fashion apparel market will only speed up this shift now with consumer’s focus on product rather than retailer. This is a very good development for consumers and their drive for shopping simplicity and it is very intimidating for the major retailers because Amazon will be taking a bite out of their sales. Retailers must focus on developing a robust shopping presence that supports the shoppers changing lifestyles and they must focus on the product brand and brand comparisons in this changing shopping environment.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors. How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience? Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes. In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas. How can you support these continuously changing requirements?