retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Marketing Daily has an interview with Forrester e-commerce expert Sucharita Mulpuru in which she assesses the current state of online shopping. Among her insights:

• "E-commerce is growing at a low double-digit rate, and has been for several years, and I don’t anticipate that changing. Consumers now prefer to buy more often, and from more categories. And we continue to see the shift from desktop to mobile, in terms of traffic and even sales. I don’t think that’s going to change. And you’ll see Amazon continue to dominate the e-commerce landscape."

• "I think companies have to look at Amazon the same way we all saw Wal-Mart back in the mid- 1990s. It seemed unbeatable. You just weather the storm and wait for the next big disruption, because it is so dominant in everything it does. If you are in that space, you’re likely facing the most competitive headwinds you have ever seen. Jet.com is out trying to compete, but it’s just a little start-up."

• "To me, the bigger question is what happens to Amazon next ... Amazon is incredibly innovative, and there are many high expectations. A lot of its biggest successes have been outside retail, in cloud, for example, or advertising, or hardware, like the Echo and Kindle. These businesses are more lucrative than retail, and growing faster. I think Amazon is ultimately going to find more success in these other businesses, and that is the path for the future. Gradually, we may start to see that Amazon doesn’t need retail as much as it has in the past. It can start changing the business model, and raise prices, so it becomes a little less competitive. And that may finally give other retailers some breathing room."

And finally, Mulpuru says that the best bricks-and-mortar retailers competing with Amazon and its e-commerce brethren "are focusing on the customer experience first. If collecting and using personalized data can enhance that initiative, that’s fabulous. Sending alerts that packages are ready for pickup, for example, is more focused on the customers’ needs. Retailers should ask themselves, 'What is useful to our customers?' rather than focusing on what is easiest for them."
KC's View:
I think the observations about where Amazon goes next are sort of interesting ... they reflect those made by an MNB reader who also isn't convinced that retailing is where Amazon is likely to make its bones long-term. I'm not sure I agree ...but we'll see.

I do have to say that the observation about retailers needing to focus on what is most relevant and useful for customers as opposed to what is easiest for them is absolutely right on. It is the same observation we make around here all the time - that companies focusing on efficiency at the expense of effectiveness are going down the wrong path, one that will only lead to irrelevance.