Here in Jacksonville, Fla., there is an old Circuit City building that is now a costume and party supply store. Whenever I pass it, I'm reminded of what can happen to a business if they fail to adapt quickly enough to a changing market.
The Internet can be a great tool for businesses if you learn to properly use it for marketing and selling, but it hurts businesses that try to survive without it. As the number of people going online increases (due to the growth in mobile devices and mobile internet speeds), so does the number of business transactions that happen online. In the near future, just about everything bought and sold around the world will be done by or influenced by digital channels. The future of every business involves online marketing and e-commerce solutions that replace or accent traditional selling methods, and here's the information that proves it.
The first thing that business owners need to realize is that this market shift towards the Internet has already begun. More and more consumers are turning to the Internet to shop for things they would have previously bought in a store. For example, Nielsen recently released a study on e-commerce around the world found multiple examples of retail happening on and influenced by digital channels. The study noted that 33 percent of online consumers in North America plan to shop for mobile phones online in the next six months, and 22 percent plan to purchase them online. Similarly, 50 percent of shoppers with Internet access in North American plan to browse for apparel online in the next six months, and 42 percent plan to purchase it online. Even restaurants have to face the changing reality. According to Sullivan, Higdon & Sink, 26 percent of Americans ordered food from restaurants online in the past year.
These are more than just interesting stats. This information can help retailers improve their business model.
Here are three things you need to be doing with our business--if you aren't already:
1. Open a Web store.
For example, boutiques that traditionally sell clothing in their shop should consider opening an accompanying Web store. Otherwise, they could missing out on nearly half of their target audience. The same is true for a small cell phone store. Rather than simply give up on a third of the shoppers, a retailer can get their own site or list their phone prices on Amazon.com. Restaurants can set up a portal where customers can order their delivery or takeout food online, or have their restaurants listed on a site that specialize is local delivery like GrubHub. There are many ways to tackle the issue; what's important is that a business take action to make their products and services available to people online.
2. Take advantage of digital channels.
There is also a significant amount of research that suggests the future will see even higher rates of consumerism on the Internet. Juniper Research predicted that 31 billion eCoupons will be redeemed worldwide in 2019, up from an estimated 16 billion in 2014. Nielsen also reported that 60 percent of all U.S. consumer packaged goods sales will be digitally sold or influenced by 2017. Retailers who don't take advantage of digital channels will find themselves fighting for the scraps of business left behind large retail stores like Walmart and online retailers.
3. Stay on top of the Internet of Things.
The Internet may affect businesses in ways marketers don't yet fully understand. As more and more devices become Internet-enabled, there will be new digital channels for marketers to use. IDC estimated that retailers will investment an estimated $466 million in the Internet of Things by 2017. Someday in the future, consumers will be able to order their groceries through an app on their smart refrigerators. And I can imagine a future where your refrigerator knows you're out of Coca-Cola so you get a coupon sent to your smartphone the moment you enter your local grocery store. Scary, you say? Scary effective. (But also the regular kind of scary; whatever comes in the future, learn to adjust your privacy options).
The Internet has transformed the landscape of business and personal life, and there are no signs of that trend abating any time soon. In the near future, every business will need an online presence and digital marketing to help them succeed. Though some of these eventualities are years away, business owners need to start adapting now. Waiting can be a costly mistake if your competitors use the time to gain an insurmountable lead. With strong competition from Netflix and RedBox, by the time Blockbuster Video decided to join the party it was too late for the former home video giant. And now, my local Blockbuster Video is a boat supplies store.
The future of every business is digital, including yours. Don't let what happened to Blockbuster and Circuit City happen to you.