Retail Apocalypse in 2019 and What does this mean for Small Businesses 0
2018 has seen a lot of highs and lows for retail companies. There has been a shift in the way the world buys and the effects of this change are being seen everywhere. From closures of major Toys ‘R’ Us, Sears, Payless, Macy’s and Gap stores across the US, just to name a few. To the emergence of niche brands and small businesses expanding into physical locations and taking the newly super integrated e-commerce by storm.
What does it all mean? Who do these trends really affect and what does it mean for the market players.
The way we buy is changing. With the development of new technology and the daily advancements of apps and platforms, we use more of them, we use new ones more often and we use old ones in ever increasing new ways. The wave of e-commerce brought about a wealth of change for businesses, now, even more so with the addition of multiple platform integration. The internet has basically been made into an open market for buying and selling. This means product suppliers/creators, distributors and fulfilment agencies have to adapt to changing times. Our retail apocalypse could really be a metamorphosis in the making.
It is easy to believe that there is a retail apocalypse happening. We usually associate the term with some colossal end and mass destruction, and we would be halfway correct. An apocalypse can also be defined as a revelation or a very serious event, resulting in great destruction and change. The closure of several retail giants and chapter 11 bankruptcy filings, can surely be deemed as a destructive event, an event of removing old market practices for new ones. Many retailers are also opting to downsize or integrate new technology or schemes aligned with e-commerce strategies to market their businesses.
Where do niches and small businesses fall into this? Usually, these businesses fall into the category of those more in touch with their consumer base and their needs due to their size. The move to more experience and culture based buying patterns means a greater authentic experience demand and a supply from only those equipped to meet it. People are really taking a greater interest in paying attention to businesses, expert in the product/service they are looking for, as opposed to a large one-cap-fits-all retailer that may benefit from mass production as opposed to a uniquely tailored brand/goods, that are also conscious and culturally aware. This is telling in things such as the Gucci scandal and “social cancelling” in 2019 and the increase in the #blackownedbusiness and #supportblackbusiness hashtag trends.
The “grassroots” advantage, however, is one aspect on the spectrum. Usually, big businesses are able to afford to adapt quickly to the insatiable needs of consumers. Small businesses and niches, they have to be more mindful of strategies needed to adapt to changing technology and buying practices, quicker response times and convenient shipping options. Expansion and pricing strategies will also have to be atop the lists of to-do’s in 2019 retail strategies for small businesses and niches, as greater efficiency will become key in improving their brand as the e-commerce super integration change begins to take place.
Amazon launches Live-Stream Shopping Videos for Sellers 0
In 2016 Amazon launched “Style Code Live”, described as the platform’s first attempt at a ‘QVC-esque’ live shopping experience, focused on fashion and beauty. Though short-lived, it seemed the platform was at the dawn of a new era, and hence, not completely lost on the idea of live streaming and e-commerce. With new categories, and a quite familiar format Amazon has set out to expand Amazon Live.
Having explored live-streaming on occasion in the past, on days like Prime Day and on its Today’s Deals page. The latest instalment of Amazon Live is further reaching. It is a live-streaming shopping experience that features a grid of content streams from various sellers. You can select an individual stream for a specific seller and watch, as they give you product insights, while some of their products are highlighted just below the stream, alongside an “add to cart” button, to go about the usual checkout routine.
Just last January, Amazon submitted for patenting, a live video shopping interface. So it would seem a long term commitment to this emerging dynamic is imminent.
Currently in Apple’s app store, for iOS devices only, Amazon Live Creator is the official app that sellers can use to live stream directly to Amazon.com and its mobile app, in places such as product detail pages, your store, and of course on Amazon.com/live. As a seller, you are also provided with the option to pay to promote your live stream. Depending on your spend, this should inversely affect the goals as advertised by Amazon, to drive sales, interact with viewers and be discovered, but does this also mean less visibility for lower budget spenders? Only time will tell.
So you may be wondering what it takes to become a part of this emerging trend. Well, If you're a US Professional Seller registered in the Amazon Brand Registry, you’ve already passed the first hurdle.
Creating a live stream is easy. After downloading the Amazon Live Creator iOS mobile app, you can stream your video content at the push of a button directly from your phone camera or through an encoder using a professional camera. Now Amazon.com on desktop, mobile, and Amazon's mobile app’s over 310 million users are at your fingertips, unfortunately, not so much if you are located in China or Hong Kong where live streaming is not supported at this time. For sellers everywhere else however, this is big news.
A wealth of new marketing opportunities open up for sellers. The ability to engage consumers on a more direct level, removing doubt or lessening uncertainty of product function or legitimacy is a major feat. Being discovered by people who typically would not have found their products without the streaming service, is also a huge plus. The influencer marketing strategy also has much to gain, as collaborators with large followings on other platforms can share a live feed, or bring users to a seller’s live stream, giving that seller access even outside the bounds of Amazon’s viewership.
The move is one embraces the removal of location and cultural barriers globally in e-commerce. It opens perhaps the biggest opportunity yet for sellers to maximise their reach. And although not an entirely new concept if you consider how e-commerce operates in China. Live-streaming is a new wave in e-commerce that Amazon has set its targets on conquering and this means, sellers and buyers have adapting expectations in the market.