The retail landscape is changing, due in large part to the growing influence of e-commerce.
Department stores used to set the retail trends for customers by stocking certain products in their brick-and-mortar locations. Now, however, consumers are buying unique items sold online. By doing this, online shoppers are setting new trends and influencing what the department stores keep in stock.
According to the Boston Globe, holiday season department store sales have declined by 21 percent over the last 10 years, and experts reported that this can be traced back to unsatisfactory merchandising models adopted by America's large chain companies. These huge department stores require a great deal of inventory, and only a few suppliers can deliver products on such a large scale. This results in many of the department stores using the same vendors.
Additionally, department stores hate to take on merchandise risk, so they opt for products that seem safe and likely to be popular with the greatest number of consumers. As a result, shoppers are turning toward online stores to find items that are highly specific and adventurous, and by doing so they are setting the newest trends in retail. Online stores are able to respond quickly to changes in inventory and fluctuating demand.
"It allows us to test things out and quickly react," senior e-commerce merchandiser Sean Scales said to the Globe. "We can load up if things are working well or we can stop carrying it."
Make sure that your retail company has an online presence and card processing software that can track inventory both in-store and online. In 2015, it will be more crucial than ever to engage a system that supports omni-channel retail.