While retailers map out their omni-channel and digital strategy, a troubling trend is emerging. The digital transformations intended to stem the tide and allow established retailers to compete in the Age of Software are either moving too slowly or failing. Yet the rate of change in digital platforms, as evidenced by companies like Amazon and Alibaba, is progressing at such speeds that moving slowly is not an option for survival. The problem lies in the way most established retailers are approaching transformation.
Merz Apothecary is the oldest pharmacy in Chicago and one of the oldest pharmacies in the United States at 142 years old. The company does not specialize in traditional pharmacy products or prescriptions, but what differentiates them from other apothecary stores are their natural and unique personal care products from around the world. With two stores in Chicago, a web business, a catalog business, and on Amazon integration. Merz Apothecary employs 58 people and will finish this year between $15 and $20 million in revenue.
In 2016, revenue of the 14,000 nursery and garden stores in the U.S. was valued at around $41 billion. Competition from home centers, hardware stores, mass merchandisers is forcing individually owned retail sites to become more efficient and flexible. This is exactly what Stein’s Garden & Home has successfully achieved with a new point-of- sale system. Stein’s is a 16-store garden center chain based in north, central, and southeast Wisconsin. Boasting an overall volume of about $60 million, Stein’s stocks annuals, perennials, and barbeque equipment, meaning half of the business is seasonal, peaking in the summer, fall, and holiday seasons.
The current media reporting on the state of retail stores paints a doom and gloom picture. Almost every day there are headlines of bankruptcy filings and store closures suggesting that the retail apocalypse is here. It’s clear that the retail industry is going through a transformational period that has many scaling back physical operations, but despite the news, people still want to—and still do—shop in stores.
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