Tuesday, 14 June 2016
High street blues
The received wisdom of the retail trade is that if a certain type of merchandise is popular online then it is also popular in the high street. This might come as a surprise to some people. But remember that there are swings and roundabouts when it comes to retail. The internet tends to offer a wider range of choice, but the high street and offer try-before-you-buy. The internet usually offers lower prices, whereas the high street (and shopping mall) offer instant gratification- you don't have to wait until it arrives by mail or courier service.
That is why we still have high street bookshops - despite Amazon - and why we have food retailers, despite Ocado and online food retail. Admittedly some things have shifted to the online world. That is why record shops are dead. They simply could not compete with downloadable music which offered massive choice as well as instant gratification.
But that is something that can be reduced to electronic form. It is axiomatic that items that can only exist in physical form will continue to have a place on the high street. To adapt Mark Twain's phrase: reports of the death of the high street are greatly exaggerated.
So why not magnetic bracelets? Why are they not there?
I think the answer lies - to some extent - in the economics of the high street, in contradistinction to the internet. Take a company like Magnetic Products Store. They are able to sell all over the world because of the power of internet outreach as well as fulfillment by major internet retail partners. This takes financial resources, but equivalent to opening just one, or maybe two, high street retail outlets. It's no comparison. To reach out to the customer base via the high street would require a whole chain of shops and thus a massive investment.
Why would any successful online retailer do this when they can reach out to a much bigger customer base via the worldwide web?
It's a no-brainer. The status quo simply makes more sense... at least for the time-being. But that may not always be the case. After all, as the customer base increases sooner or later people are going to want to buy the top brand.