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Retailers are closing...

by Timmy Treu

Oh well.. the sign of the times? To a certain extent, although it is not all “crisis” driven! Think of it. It is mainly related to the nearly total incompetence of customer relations. Even mass merchants are reducing space. There though, the reasons are different – they never had a relation with the customer anyway!

So? Where do we go from there? To a purely virtual world? At least this is an option. Look at the last quarterly results of amazon.com. No need to drive to the store! No need to talk to an incompetent salesperson! They even know what you like! They send you an e-mail, proposing products to your taste, which you can read at your leisure! THIS is the new world of relations with the customer.

Let’s face it, though… it is not all virtual! There is still the human weakness of wanting to touch goods, before you buy them! The possibility of browsing through shelves, like in the “good ol’” book stores, proves that we still need these very intimate moments.

There is however a generation-gap! There are those who are born “analogical”, and those born “digital”. It is this latter group that is basically changing the retailing environment, those who grew up (and still grow up) WITH a PC in their children’s room. The FaceBookers, the MySpacers and the like.

In all this I do believe that the only e-tailer who has effectively managed to (at least in the US) to “grab” both generations, is Apple with its iTunes phenomenon. In a matter of a few years iTunes has become the #1 outlet for music. And should the studios finally decide to get on that “train” on a large scale, there is a good chance it could become the #1 outlet for movies as well.

What a change in consumer habits! Now I understand why it is called “software”, intangible as it is – even if it could have been called “download-ware”. It’s just too bad that piracy will over time erode even this business, if society does not find a way to apply sense-full DRM systems. This way the headline of this article in a few years’ time could read… “e-tailers are closing…”?

And then? Back to the old days… record music from radio on recording devices on some flash-cards, the same for movies recorded off TV… and we will listen/watch them on our pda.

No… we are just moving to a memory-less generation. Meaning there might be no need anymore to record anything; it may all be simply on-demand, pay-as-you-go…

.. in the meantime retailers are closing!

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