business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a story about how “research from consulting firm AlixPartners says the most profitable transaction for retailers is when shoppers make purchases the old-fashioned way, by visiting a store.” The problem, of course, is that this “is no longer the preferred option for many people.

“This holiday,” the story says, “US online sales are expected to increase 15% from last year to $124.1 billion, according to Adobe Analytics, which analyzes visits to retail websites. Overall, holiday sales are expected to rise as much as 4.8% to $721 billion, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade group.”

It won’t be without challenges, though, since “those who order online will have some tough choices to make. They can pick up items in a local store, or have them delivered to their car in the parking lot. They can reserve clothing online and have it waiting in a fitting room to try on. Or they can take advantage of an expanding menu of free shipping choices, some with guaranteed next-day delivery in a direct challenge to Amazon … The myriad choices each have their own shorthand—there is Skip the Line, Drive Up and Get It Fast, to name a few - which can be confusing. Many consumers say they aren’t aware of all the options.”
KC's View:
The story makes the point that the plethora of choices has not stopped retailers from rolling out more and more options. I have to wonder at some level if retailers could be making a mistake by creating so much clutter … they’re not doing consumers, or themselves, any favors.

These retailers could be repeating mistakes that they’ve in the bricks-and-mortar world … they try to dazzle the consumer with fancy footwork, and end up tripping all over themselves. There’s got to be a way to frame the options clearly, and make them part of a strong narrative that builds the brand.