It was during this last holiday season when I first noticed it. While watching TV, an advertisement came on touting Walmart would now price match with competitors. Then, I read in a press release that Best Buy would now price match online competitors as well, presumably to avoid “show rooming,” the phenomena of customers coming in to try out products, then purchasing those same products online. In the context of the retail space, these are some of the biggest gorillas telling the rest of the world they acknowledge things have changed and are ready to change with it. Pretty revolutionary stuff.
The Changing Times
Price matching is just one step for the renovation of the modern retailer. The other major step will have to be customer experience.
Online retailers can offer a price. What they can’t offer are the sights, sounds, smells (hopefully pleasant ones) and sensations of an in-store experience. That being said, this hasn’t stopped them from trying.
Zappos, a successful online store, has incentivized their sales reps to spend MORE time on the phone with customers. The theory is that this extra time spent on the phone will help the company — and the customer — know just a little bit more about each other. So far, it’s working for Zappos. Sales are off the charts. [Read more...]