IBM has revealed its prediction that buying local will beat online in future. In 2012, online sales topped $1 trillion globally and many offline retailers have gone out of business as they fail to compete on price with the likes of Amazon. Offline retailers need to figure out a way to compete with Amazon and other e-commerce giants. Deals and coupons simply aren’t enough for them. But innovations for offline stores will make buying local turn out better.
The innovations will bring the power of the Web right to where the shoppers can touch it. Retailers will use the immediacy of the store and proximity to customers to create experiences that online-only retail can’t replicate. Retailers could rely on artificial intelligence akin to IBM’s Watson, which played Jeopardy better than many human competitors. The Web can make sales associates smarter, and augmented reality can deliver more information to the store shelves.
With these technologies, stores will be able to anticipate what a shopper desires and needs. Other factors in favor of physical stores include:
- No need to wait for shipping.
- No hassle of returning/exchanging the product on account of liking or size, for instance.
Data and Personalization would be the key drivers that could save physical stores. According to the report, this technology will get so good that online retailers are likely to set up retail showrooms to help their own sales.
There’s no doubt that coming year could be a pivotal year for the physical stores. But they need to act fast and start providing a unique experience for customers or risk being left in the dust by major online giants.