Shoppers on e-commerce sites dictate the inventory and stock a company keeps. This bucks past trends that showed big box, brick-and-mortar stores that carried limited inventory based on what manufacturers supplied to them. If it was not clear before, shopping online reigns supreme with retail customers.
Taryn Luna, writing for the Boston Globe, cites several statistics that show how the choices e-commerce customers make determine the variety of items retailers keep in stock, maintain in warehouses and highlight on their websites. Shopping online allows consumers to find whatever style, size, color and type of clothing, accessory, shoes or lampshade they need. This has an advantage over brick-and-mortar stores that can only hold so much product within a limited space.
Traditional retailers dictated what people wore. As retailers expanded to hundreds of locations, different stores often looked the same because suppliers became limited by the number of items they could send to stores. Only a select few companies could send thousands of pieces out at a time. These clothes were cheaper because they were bought in bulk, but places like JCPenney and T.J.Maxx might carry the same exact clothes. Specialty stores and boutiques filled in the gaps, but clothes were more expensive because fewer pieces were brought in from wholesalers.
Shopping online changes the game. Stores can keep warehouses full of stuff until individual shoppers find that perfect dress, pair of shoes or set of matching jewelry. E-commerce websites such as Wayfair and UsTrendy have increased revenue thanks to sharp increases in online buying habits of consumers. UsTrendy's sales reached $5 million in 2013, up 300 percent from 2012. UsTrendy caters to 20,000 designers who make clothes for 16- to 29-year-olds. Likewise, Shoebuy.com maintains inventories of millions of shoes and boots. Sales increased 10 percent from 2012 to 2013.
These trends point to one important, game-changing facet of retail sales. Customization rules the future of shopping online. Finding that special gift, engagement ring or even a new automobile is done increasingly online. Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales have become bonanzas for online retailers. Finding great deals on gifts over the Internet will outpace physical retail stores in coming years. Amazon has taken over the way people shop, and unique retailers must follow suit to meet demand.
Shopping online will not go away, and traditional shopping will never be the same. Big-box retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy and Home Depot are not leaving anytime soon, but shoppers dictate the future of these companies. Even Walmart sees this future as reality with its site-to-store service, online price matching and greater variety on Walmart.com.
Shopping online continues to get better, faster and more advanced. Amazon offered one-hour delivery in New York City as a holiday shopping experiment. In 10 years, e-commerce may look nothing like it does in present day. Current trends show that retail customers are okay with that.
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