Carl Richards in his New York Times Personal Business column wrote this week about two kinds of shoppers: Those “who think shopping is fun and those who don’t.” Although I think he is being a bit simplistic (after all, how about those X-Treme shoppers who see it all as a combat sport), I think he is onto something, particularly when it comes to ecommerce vs. Bricks and Mortar.
Many people enjoy recreational shopping. They see is as part social activity,
part scavenger hunt; partly a form of art and upon occasion a martial art. There are, on the other hand, other people who simply hate to shop. They see as it boring, frustrating and a waste of time. You will never see the latter out on Black Friday much less any other Friday if they can possibly help it.
Prior to the Internet, it didn’t matter whether you liked to shop or not; you still had to go (depending upon where or when you lived) downtown, to the shopping center, the mall or the strip center.
Today, if you don’t like to shop, you don’t have to go anywhere. You can stay hermetically sealed in your house while you quickly look for what you want without the bother of friends, traffic or gasoline.
Those who hate to shop, are the core constituency for ecommerce. They along with those who are too busy or too tired will continue to growth ecommerce. Their loss will have a growing negative impact on Bricks and Mortar stores (particularly mass merchandisers).
The question will be, are there enough recreational and X-Treme shoppers out there to support the current Bricks and Mortar store counts and store size. If there is not, what kinds of stores will survive, how big will they be and how many will there be of them?
It would seem that those who survive and prosper will be those who do the best job of pleasing their shoppers. They will need to provide the ultimate recreational shopping experience and that will mean not only providing great service and environments but also the thrill of the hunt. That will also mean variety and low pricing but how do you provide the combination of the two in a smaller format store? The scale works against providing both a great price and a great variety.
Look for those who hate to shop to increasingly leave the bricks and mortar stores. Expect the toll of that migration to become significant as bricks and mortar retailers fight for those who simply love to shop.