Trends: Retail Markets, Internet and Technology, and Social Media

For retail, mobile technology is a game changer. Everything about retail is being changed by the internet, technology and social media.

What’s not changing is that retail establishments that want to do well need to have well trained salespeople. It would be a mistake to get all the newest technology but still have poorly trained staff due to high turnover.

E-commerce will continue to grow. The question in part is whether to emphasize online sales or not. If you do, you need to do it in a way that you’re not going to compete with Amazon because you’ll most likely lose that competition. If you’re going to emphasize your brick and mortar operation, you need to make your store an experience. Think The Apple Store. I’ve only walked by but every time, it’s the most packed store on the block. Evidently you have to make an appointment to get in now.

We saw a video about retail trends in which computers will be able to give you personalized recommendations or suggest complementary purchases based on tags on the clothing. It sounds a lot like what a salesperson would do. The only thing with that is that if you take the human interaction out of the equation, you take out a lot of the reason for people to get off the computer and come into the store.

And again, mobile is changing things. More consumers are comparing prices while in the store before making purchases. More people are using QR codes to get more information on products. They also have apps that will show information instantly while viewing products or locations through an iPhone camera.

As for the Internet and real estate, we looked at a number of websites that are enabling consumers to do more of their home buying without agents. Some of the sites we looked at were:

  • Money360
  • City Data
  • Revestor
  • Walk Score
  • Zillow
  • Texas RE Center
  • Netro Online
  • Padmapper
  • Hot Pads
  • Realtor.com

What we’re seeing is that real estate agents are going to have to find more ways to add value to the transactions. The only information they are privy to at this point is selling prices. They show that in some states but evidently not in Texas.

A Realtor needs to do more than a competitive market analysis to justify a 3% commission.  That’s why we’re seeing more web based discount brokers. If you look at listings on Realtor.com, most of them are poorly done. Teenagers upload better pictures to Facebook. And the writing needs help too. A marketing consultant should be able to make a killing consulting to consumers who’d like to sell their own.

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