Collin: Hey guys, this weeks slack chat is going to revolve around how online shopping has changed the way we buy things. I was curious where you guys buy most of your stuff?
https://theweek.com/articles/801938/sun-sets-sears Here also is an article about Sears closing, something which is becoming more common especially at malls across america where I feel like people are less likely to spend their time shopping.
JWalk: I love this topic Collin, can’t wait to talk about it.
Kara: Oh wow… yeah I thinks it’s a testament in itself that I never really shopped at Sears, even as a kid. I mean I knew it existed but it wasn’t like a store I thought of when going to the mall.
Collin: I think a lot of the malls in my area and the malls I remember are all pretty much run down and shut down. I definitely never made plans to go hang out with my friends at the mall or anything like that
Collin: Does anyone even shop at the mall anymore? I can’t remember the last time I even went into one
Kara: Don’t get me wrong, I still love going through the clearance racks in JCPenney and Dillard’s, but I know more and more people are buying clothes online. I only go because there’s a movie theatre in my area that has 5$ Tuesdays. I think they’re kinda creepy!
Collin: They are just always super empty. Do you enjoy shopping online more? Or is it just because of convenience alone?
Kara: I go online if I’m looking for specific items, or am price comparing for big purchase items
Collin: I miss the being able to try on clothes in store. Because I’m a big guy and it’s hard for me to order clothes or shoes online and be promised that they fit perfectly. It’s a little stressful to be honest
Kara: I feel like clothing stores are gonna stay around for that exact reason. But when it comes to tech, or even like decorations and more household items- so much can just be bought online for a cheaper price
Collin: Here’s where I’m confused: how is Sears out of business? I wouldn’t think you could buy home appliances like a fridge or washing machine online. Maybe my understanding of Sears products is a little dated…
Kare: No that’s what I remember them for too! Honestly, I just don’t think they transferred well to the digital age.
Collin: How so?
Kara: I feel like with the onslaught of the internet, some companies realized that they had to maximize their online presence. Or- wait for it new theory here- They were known as America’s everything store. But in today’s society, the smaller niche of customers you serve, the better chance you have at succeeding.
Maybe Sears just had too many branches too successfully manage all of them
Collin: I’d say that’s true. I definitely think they might have had too much going on. Can you think of any companies who have done a good job or being more direct with their products?
Carla White: I think what happened with Sears is that it transformed into more of a liquidation place
JWalk: I usually go shopping at a real store for clothes.
Carla: I think their buyers turned to cheaper product which ended up hurting their business
JWalk: But I have become an online shopper.
Carla: The tricky thing with online shopping is that oftentimes it’s more difficult to judge quality
JWalk: To be honest I don’t know how electronic stores like GameStop still exist because I usually buy video games online.
Collin: I think I needed to clarify what Sears actually sold because I can only see them selling kenmore appliances or things like that.
Best Buy still is around
Kara: Ok but I feel like Best Buy is going down slowly too.
Carla: I think electronic hubs like that are only around for the repair/maintenance departments
Collin: GEEK SQUAD! But seriously that is one thing I always associated with Best Buy and it’s probably doing well for them still
JWalk: I think Best Buy is going to stay around because of all the stuff that they have in the store. Sometimes people want to look at the thing they that may purchase instead of seeing online visuals.
Do you guys remember Radio Shack?
Carla: Everyone wants the latest and greatest tech but they have no idea how to use it or how it works
Kara: In honesty, I feel like a lot of department stores are heading down hill, just at a slower rate. We’re in this weird limbo where people feel like items are cheaper online, but they still like having tangible experience with what they’re purchasing. Also yeah Radio Shack is history
Collin: Apple stores aren’t going anywhere
JWalk: Radio Shack used to be favorite store as a kid, but online purchasing took them down.
Carla: No matter what location I went to as a kid I remember it always smelt nasty
Carla: No shade
Collin: A little shade though
JWalk: A lot of shade
Carla: Smelt like rotten vegetables
Kara: What a horrible way to remember stores
Carla: Smaller businesses are doing better, faster… because marketing and branding has become so much easier via social media
Collin: I think Apple stores may be the most financially successful electronics store honestly
JWalk: Because their chargers are $40 each. And people keep coming back for them when it breaks.
Collin: Well sure but they still make money
Kara: Because a lot of people have Apple products and there’s literally no other way to fix them if stuff goes wrong. Apple did it right
Collin: I agree with Kara
JWalk: Speaking of another business that shut down, is Toys R Us making a comeback or was that just a rumor?
Kara: holy smokes Apple is booming
Collin: What I am realizing about Apple is that their stores can stay around not just because of prices but because of how diverse their products are. I’ve had to make multiple trips in to get things fixed and I don’t remember them charging me too much money but maybe that’s just me
Kara: I feel like a big question is what stores are going to be able to exist as store buildings, and what types of stores are going to have to move fully online to survive?
Collin: Speaking of that kind of bridges back to the toys r us thing. http://toysrus.com. Here’s what their website shows. Maybe they will move fully online now?
Kara: Apple offers specific services that need to happen in person. Toys R Us could be chill with just being online
JWalk: Haha I guess they are back.
Collin: I would agree with that Kara
Kara: And like with Best Buy- they’re probably still around because of the Geek Squad. I could see in the near future the majority of businesses moving online, with tangible stores being very service based.
Collin: Really I think that is the model you’re seeing right now
JWalk: I remember when I had my Galaxy 3, I had go to Geek Squad maybe 4 times to keep fixing it haha. Reason why I switched to Apple and got an iPhone.
Carla: I think the best storefronts are usually locally owned and that’s what they can attribute their success to. And I think that companies who mimic that customized experience for customers do better.
Collin: Mimic locally owned businesses?
Carla: Ya because I think people still crave the shopping experience in real life due to the shift towards more online consuming. So I think the only companies that are thriving right now are the ones that are paying close attention to customer satisfaction and experience. And that’s part of the reason why massive department stores like sears and toys r us have failed because they haven’t been able to maintain their relationship with their customers
Kara: Here’s an article that kind of talks about that
Collin: I think toys r us almost found a sort of revival when they announced they were going out of business because that’s when I started seeing Geoffrey the Giraffe everywhere, making the store more personal for me at least
Kara: That was their one personal connection. This is also a cool article about how retail might actually be coming back
Overall, business will continue as usual. People love shopping too much for everything to move to an online platform, but I also agree with Carla that the stores that are going to succeed are the ones that really try to make that ‘authentic’ connection with customers.
How has online shopping changed your buying habits, and where do you think the future of business is? Leave comments below to continue the discussion!