The new way of Buying and Selling that will redefine the future of Retail
by Roger Casals, entrepreneur, plazah CEO and Co-Founder, on June 2018
Twenty years ago, traditional retail had mostly one channel: Brick & Mortar, but a nascent channel called to disrupt retail was being developed: e-commerce.
In 2018 e-commerce will reach 10% of all retail sales in the U.S. Impressive, taking into consideration that this happened in only 20 years. Today, all consumer brands have a strategy for Brick & Mortar and e-commerce (those more advanced, even have a coordinated omni-channel strategy).
Despite the massive structural changes in retail over the past years, its disruption is accelerating, and traditional brands are being severely impacted.
The reason behind this, is that traditional retailers used to be two things: an intermediary and a source of knowledge. But in order to compete with pure play e-commerce players, they decided to fight a war that was doomed to fail: trying to compete in price instead of value. So, they started slashing costs at all levels, including reducing the number of customer facing product experts on the floor, leaving retail stores as mere warehouses, full of products but empty of knowledge. No knowledgeable experts available to advise customers. As a result, on top of losing the price and convenience battles against e-commerce competitors, traditional retailers have been throwing away their main asset: the value added from their experts.
This means that online retailers are going to keep growing and furthering their dominance, and brands are going to keep losing visibility on their customers; brands know less and less about who buys their products, why, where they are, what they bought and for what price. Dominant online retailers do not share that information with brands, leaving them at their mercy. This limits brands not only upselling and cross selling opportunities, but also in their ability to innovate.
Customer’s need advice. This is something e-commerce has known for a while, and that’s why they added Product Reviews and Ratings with stars and Chat tools, trying to reduce the knowledge gap. But nowadays 60% of product reviews are fake, biased or inaccurate, and chat tools with actual people attending are so expensive that e-commerce is trying to “automate” those via AI (artificial intelligence), which is far from ready for prime time. But in any case, they will always miss the most important aspect of any recommendation: they MUST BE PERSONAL.
This is precisely what Personal Commerce is about, buying from someone you trust, that knows your true needs, and that adds value to the purchase experience. A true win-win-win situation.
Personal Commerce: bridging the “Retail Gap”
Personal Commerce provides the best of both worlds: traditional retail and e-commerce, bridging the “Retail Gap”.
No more fake ratings, canned answers from silicon-based chat-bots on e-commerce. We need to go back to the essence: carbon based experts. Yes!, human experts that make our lives easier with wise, honest and tailored personal recommendations to each of us about what to buy and what not to buy. Human experts who know us can not only give us advice on the “what” but also on the “why.” And we are surrounded by experts.
Their expertise and knowledge about products HAVE VALUE, and they deserve to be REWARDED and compensated every time they recommend a product that translates into a sale.
Buying is becoming more complicated and stressful. Consumers have so many options that they never know whether or not the product they are buying is the right one for their individual needs.
Brands need a channel for experts to promote their products. Brands need to regain visibility and know how about the customers that buy their products, and a set of tools that help train and manage the new immense and free sales force that individual experts can become.
We at plazah call this Personal Commerce. Personal Commerce addresses all of these issues, disrupting retail for good, without directly competing with brick & mortar or e-commerce. Personal Commerce complements brick & mortar and e-commerce.
Thus, a new sales channel is born.
New Market Trends
In order to fight retail disruption, a new set of players have emerged adopting different and innovative strategies. We found these very relevant:
Direct-to-Consumer Brands: companies such as Dollar Shave Club, Glossier, Kylie cosmetics, Allbirds, etc…, have a new sales strategy. These companies sell exclusively directly their brands to consumers. No intermediaries. Period. So they get full control of their pricing strategy, inventory, positioning, …
Experience-driven retail Stores: some stores (such as Bonobos or 8eta), are fighting retail disruption by liberating their stores from the tyranny of inventory. Those stores run like fitting rooms. They showcase their products but they have no stock. One of each product to show how it looks, fits or works. But if you’re interested, you have to buy online.
Direct-Selling: this is not new. Many companies such as Avon, Rodan & Fields, TupperWare, Termomix, etc., are big successful companies selling through a network of “affiliates” or personal sellers, that push one brand through their circle of influence (clients, relatives and friends).
Based in Silicon Valley, plazah is the leading solution for consumer brands to successfully enter the Personal Commerce era and benefit from the new retail disruption. plazah is the premiere platform where experts, brands and customers connect. By enabling the Personal Commerce movement, plazah is helping brands and experts navigate the next commerce wave. plazah is multimode, because provides a solution for each incumbent and sales type:
- PUSH: One-to-One & One-to-Many recommendations
- PULL: Social Media integration & Personal Web Stores for Experts and Shops
- FOR ALL: Additional revenue opportunities for Experts and Shops (Gym, Salon,…)
Brands love plazah because they are finally back in the driver’s seat: they get visibility of their clients and get a new added value channel. Experts love plazah because they get recognized and rewarded for their expertise by recommending products to their circle of influence (clients, relatives and friends), as they already do on a daily basis, and earn commissions of up to 40%. And Consumers get peace of mind from personal recommendations from experts they trust.