Ted Rubin argues that instead of laying the blame for poor performance elsewhere, traditional retailers should be looking in the mirror, taking a closer look at their customers, and innovating to best serve those customers.

Traditional retailers are failing, and while I know you’ll find this hard to believe, President Trump has opinions on why that’s the case. Is it because traditional retailers have lost touch with the needs of their customer base? Nope. Maybe because they’re not doing a good enough job of integrating the eCommerce experience with traditional retail? Think again. Is it because they fail to deliver a customer experience that meets the demands of the modern consumer? Nah. Trump claims that big, bad digital businesses like Amazon are succeeding through unethical eCommerce practices, and he couldn’t be further from the truth.

The dinosaurs are dying for a reason

Amazon offers an incredible variety of products, very competitive prices, and a customer experience that is tailored to each user. When you log into Amazon, you get recommendations based on products you might actually want to buy. You can sell your own stuff through Amazon or buy from any of countless smaller businesses that offer their products through it. You can shop on any device, at any time, and order what you need with a single click.

On top of that, Amazon makes it easy to shop from home and connect with its brand through Amazon Echo, and Alexa. If you need to order something around the house, all you need is your voice. And when you order it, your product will arrive very quickly, with free or minimal shipping costs if you subscribe to Amazon Prime. If something is wrong with the product when it arrives, you can send it back and be confident that Amazon will do everything it can to make things right. 

Let’s face it, retail is undergoing a primary evolution. Amazon saw an opportunity to use today’s technology to make consumers’ lives easier and is continually taking it to the next level. What’s wrong with that? The dinosaurs that refuse to adapt to what’s going on around them are dying, but they have no one to blame but themselves.

“Retail is undergoing a primary evolution. Amazon saw an opportunity to use today’s technology to make consumers’ lives easier, and is continually taking it to the next level. What’s wrong with that?”

Stop it with the blame game, and start competing

Contrary to what others would have you believe, Amazon’s success has nothing to do with unfair e-Commerce practices, but everything to do with innovation and competition. How many traditional retailers have made more than a token effort to appeal to the modern consumer? Can traditional retailers match the convenience and customer experience of Amazon? If not, why not?

If traditional retailers want to survive and thrive, then the last thing they need to be doing is looking for outside excuses about why they’re failing in the first place. Yes, even when the leader of the country is the one making those excuses for them. Instead, traditional retailers need to both look in the mirror, and take a closer look at the needs of their customers. Perhaps, they might even study why eComm giants like Amazon succeed in the first place, and how they can bring the same quality of customer experience to the table.

The alternative is clear, and we’re already seeing it play out in shopping malls around the country. Having a big, well-known brand name and ad budget just isn’t enough anymore, as many brands are finding out the hard way. When traditional retailers don’t adapt, they fail, leaving behind empty storefronts. 

It’s not all dire news. Businesses that are willing to take an honest look at themselves and skip the excuses can find a template for success by studying the most successful e-Commerce brands, rather than complaining about them. 

In the end, if we really want to get to the heart of what’s driving President Trump’s opinions on eCommerce (Amazon… or perhaps simply Jeff Bezos), it’s not too hard to pull back the curtain. The Washington Post has reported critically on Trump’s administration, and Mr. Bezos owns the Washington Post. Is that a petty way to address a personal gripe? Of course, and that’s why it makes perfect sense.  


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