It used to be department stores that would set retail trends by choosing what products to carry in locations across the country. Now, however, customers are clamoring for more unique product options, and they’re going online to find exactly what they want.
In fact, holiday season department store sales have decreased by 21 percent over the last 10 years as consumers increasingly turn to the internet to find items.
Department stores have been known to stock very similar products because only a limited number of vendors can handle their enormous inventory requirements. Online stores, however, have no need to fill floor space and can respond immediately to customer demand.
“It allows us to test things out and quickly react,” e-commerce merchandiser Sean Scales told The Boston Globe. “We can load up if things are working well or we can stop carrying it.”
Department stores, on the other hand, try to avoid merchandise risk by stocking only those things they believe will appeal to the largest number of customers. By not taking chances on their product selections, these companies are leaving it up to online shoppers to set the latest retail trends.
Retail analysts have noted that consumers are more internet-savvy than ever, and realize that if they desire a certain item there’s a good chance somebody online is selling it.
In 2015, make sure that your company is using a point of sale and inventory system that tracks purchases both in-store and online, so you can respond to customer demand more quickly than ever. This will become increasingly important over the next year as trends emerge online and then move to brick-and-mortar stores.