It is called s-commerce, and it is the latest retail experience.
The idea - currently being passed around by email [known as viral-marketing] - is a novel concept, but it seems
it is catching on as it rolls out in towns and cities throughout the country. Apparently, s-commerce involves
people simply walking into a range of different buildings - most of which have glass fronts - called 'shops'. Once
inside the 'shop' customers are confronted with a whole range of items that are on sale to the public.
According to the emails I have seen, customers are encouraged to actually try on jackets [for example] to see if
they fit and even visualize the way they might look. This is only made possible by the use of a two-dimensional
viewing device, or 'mirror', as it is known.
These 'shops' are often aggregated into shopping portals or, as the early innovators in this phenomenon refer to
them - 'retail outlets', 'malls', 'shopping centres' or even 'high streets' [the latter is obviously jargon as
the streets have no greater elevation than any other boulevard or thoroughfare]. These portals are becoming
increasingly popular with the cash-rich, time poor generation of new consumers. Often located in areas of
dense population, these 'shops' appear to be extremely convenient to users.
Those who do not have time to download graphics onto their computers to view the latest trainers and then
wait five days for them to be delivered, hoping they will fit are an example of the target market. Customers
of the 'shops' can actually complete the transaction in real-time and walk away with the goods - or in the
case of trainers, walk away in the goods.
For businesses, huge efficiencies in the supply-chain are gained by concentrating distribution in a series of
high-volume out-lets in urban areas. But the real bonus of s-commerce is that customers can actually receive
goods when they want them - at the point of purchase. This ends the frustration of returning home to find
a note saying that goods are waiting for you in a delivery depot on the other side of town. Amazon beware -
you have been warned.
Footnote: I posted this in April 2007 - the day after I read predictions that online would represent 20% of all retail sales
I've adapted it from an anonymous 'joke' email circa 1999 - though the original might pre-date this [and it
seems to have re-surfaced on a number of blogs recently - some claiming to be the originator].
I originally used this version extensively in an attempt to keep 'dot-comers' feet on the ground, and later
as an ironic example of why many dot-comers became 'dot-bombers'. I still think it is funny, but the humour is in the irony -
isn't there a product that you may have purchased online in the past, but have since gone back to buying it in bricks and mortar shops?
Postscript to a footnote: December 2014 - I was reminded of this
posting whilst doing some maintenance on my site and decided to
put it on my Facebook page with this comment as its message:
Although online sales are now over 20% for some stores and/or products, this
still means in-store sales represent 80% of sales. So let's not get too carried
away with digital shopping shall we?