As we move into 2018, several major retail trends are already pretty clear: the division between e-commerce and online retail will fade away as the majority of businesses adopt a blended model, offering components of both, and the industry’s largest players, namely Walmart and Amazon, will continue to grow and change, in many ways becoming more like each other.
Walmart will grow its online presence, while Amazon is poised to open storefronts, says Jaron Waldman in Chain Store Age. He calls the pair Wal-Azon, a terrifying combination that makes smaller retailers wonder exactly how they’re going to compete.
There’s no question that there are some ways in which Wal-Azon is unbeatable. Convenience, price, and a people-free shopping experience are among the reasons the majority of shoppers turn to Amazon first. On the other hand, these retail giants don’t excel at creating unique, memorable experiences. One on one interactions with knowledgeable sales professionals are hard to come by. The sense of being appreciated and catered to as a customer just isn’t there. These shortcomings are where smaller retailers have room to excel, especially if they make good use of today’s data tools.
A world of blended retail means customers visit your website as well as your store. In 2018, retailers who are determined to survive and thrive in a Wal-Azon world must make full use of the data customers generate through website data. Google Analytics captures a wealth of information – if the program has been configured properly. If you’re not certain if your Google Analytics has been configured properly to capture your website data, make that a top priority for 2018. When everything is set up and interpreted properly, website analytics can help you understand and serve your customers in a way that makes the Wal-Azons of the world much less appealing.