Like it or not, shopping technology is maturing. While the systems and solutions we’re selling are buck toothed, pimple ridden, “teenage” sophomores; we’re no longer kids! Worse yet, shoppers are maturing as well. The once wide eyed, innocent consumer has caught a taste for the finer things and isn’t so enthralled with colorful, yet simple, blocks and puzzles.
Seemingly overnight our malls are losing their anchors. Stores are closing at an alarming rate, and it can’t all be put on Amazon. Facebook has usurped shopping centers’ status as our chief hangout spot. The general public is completely saturated with Instagram feeds, retweets and reddit discoveries. Compound that with Nonna’s new Prime two-day shipping, there’s less of a reason to leave our house. Even Uncle paranoid doesn’t want to see the new movie in town because its “safer” to watch it on Netflix later this year. Our perfect distillation of pre-Internet Americana is losing its cornerstones with no end in sight.
It’s always a little sad to see the once crammed playrooms of our past get whisked away into game rooms or, worse yet, home offices. This same sinking feeling hits when you walk into your favorite mall and realize it’s littered with dollar stores and cheap mobile phone accessory merchants. Its not all doom and gloom; some retailers are fairing well in our new post-Internet climate. Discount chains, for example, have regained ground due to lower prices and affordable real estate. These newfound treasures give us an alternative to waiting 2 days for our must-needed merchandise, while still offering something price competitive. T.J. Maxx, Forever 21 and H&M are flourishing.
The dreams of mom and dad getting smartphones and knowing how to use them has become a reality. The digital divide is closing exponentially! Companies like T-Mobile have completely eradicated speed bumps that use to keep the faint of heart at bay. Spectacular signage, interactive mobile, SoMoLo and iBeacon’ing are now buzzwords amongst a sea of intelligent and witty “teenagers”.
The good news is, new light is on the horizon. People can no longer stand the employment models of the past. The rise of collaboration and really knowing what the Internet can do is upon us. Consumers are eating better, looking at organic options and becoming more spiritually enlightened. Yoga and meditation isn’t just for esoteric folks. Most importantly…the fall of exaggerated consumerism is here. The general population can’t be manipulated to consume as much as possible! The world has come together and the smallest voice can now be heard. Because of the Internet and our maturing technical prowess, fewer people are buying cars. Fewer people are overspending. Services have emerged to allow the laymen to share things like cars and assets. We can now buy used goods, purchase hours of office space, and stay at a strangers apartment in Wales. We can no longer be told what to buy and why. We are now Lowsumers. There’s still verticals untouched by this in years past, but if you think your business will remain unaffected, ask RadioShack how they’re doing.
Just like the babies before us, we will grow up. 2016 proves to be a turbulent year for our oldest establishments. Even the pillars that made our infant years so great (Blackberry, Apple, Microsoft and Dell) must transform into something we can make use of as young adults. Armed with smartphones and clad in computers, we now demand something with substance; the question is…are we ready for what we’ve created?