A recent Toronto Star article recounted the demise of the downtown Oakville stores, and downtown shopping districts in general.
And it was bang-on.
But what the article failed to mention was the biggest reason that high street and downtown shopping districts are on the decline: ecommerce.
A few Ecommerce Stats:
- Ecommerce sales topped $1 trillion for first time in 2012 (eMarketer).
- 60% of U.S. retail sales will involve the web by 2017 (Forrester).
- Mobile commerce or mcommerce will generate $41.68 billion of the total $262.3 billion of ecommerce sales for 2014 (eMarketer).
It’s a fact. More and more people are shopping online or using the web or mobile phones to assist them with shopping.
So how do smaller independent retailers and shopping districts compete?
My solution is a collective “shop local” ecommerce store.
A “Shop Local” Ecommerce Store
Every year I make a pact to shop local at Christmas.
The problem is, when I go shopping for gifts I have no idea what I’m looking for. I go from store to store in downtown Oakville, searching, browsing, and spending a lot of time trying to find the perfect gifts for my family.
It’s the “time and convenience” trade-off if you want to shop local.
But does that have to be the way?
What if all of these independent retailers listed all their products on a single ecommerce site?
- People could shop local from their computers without having to visit dozens of different websites
- Shoppers could browse a complete selection of products being sold locally
- Buyers could pick up their purchases in store or have them delivered (as opposed to shipped)
The advantages for Retailers would be…
- More web traffic and awareness for their products
- Shared and consolidated delivery and shipping costs
- Centralized (and less costly) marketing, IT, and operations
With today’s ecommerce platforms and technologies, a collective “shop local” ecommerce site is very possible.
Think of TheFind.com but just for local merchants.
You could have ShopLocal.com/Oakville, ShopLocal.com/Burlington, ShopLocal.com/Toronto
I truly believe the only way for small, independent retailers to take on the Amazons of the world is to build this type of collective front, and tap into the increasing consumer trend of shopping locally and supporting your community.
But that’s my opinion, what do you think?