It took over 100 years for 'mail order' to reach 10% of retail sales - but when eCommerce arrived it took just 10 years.
As history has now proven some on the struggling high street chose to simply add a website rather than look holistically at how this new medium could be used to improve the relationship and experience with its customers.
Traditional retailers that failed to recognise the potential impact of eCommerce have been seeing casualties for well over a decade.
This isn't something new, it isn't a fad, it isn't about cannibalization as some of them told me many years ago. It's about having the 3 wise monkey syndrome in the boardroom, not listening to the consumer, and frontline employees, and not reacting quickly enough to what they can evidence.
So, is the eCommerce disrupter as we know it impenetrable to disruption?
Today's generations know nothing other than the free to access, free to use, lo-cost, no-cost digital world that many from previous generations still find somewhat bewildering.
Especially in multi-channel retail.
The next wave of disruption doesn't require them, or your furloughed employees to invest in the next 'digital' big thing, it doesn't require them to bolt new tech onto old tech, it also doesn't have the patience to wait around for decades or a few more years for you and your team to think about how to adjust and adapt.
One of the key reasons brands feel the need to ‘collaborate’ with bright young ‘social influencers’ is because they probably understand the landscape better than the media buying agency and the client.
They're seen as authentic, and more than likely clients want access to their followers.
Real people (you/me & consumers) tend to pick up on something that's 'liked' or 'shared' via our friends, family and business acquaintances, as such we have greater trust in what they recommended over the corporate message.
We do this because we have been programmed to be cynical when it comes to advertising, so we look for affirmation from the circles we trust.
The next wave of disruption has been happening for some years now, and in particular in the context of this post for online/offline retailers Covid simply accelerated the inevitable.
It's called 'social media' and if you still think its just a place to 'advertise and promote' your brand then you're in for a very rude awakening.
At no time in history has it been easier and cheaper to set up a business, if I understand the digital medium better than you I already know I don't need a database, I don't need to spend huge amounts of my budget and resource on advertising, and I can gain access to your incumbent and future customers.
I can create conversations that will make them think differently about why they should do business with me over you, and I will 'listen' to them because you don't.
This change has been further accelerated by furloughed employees investing in all that paid free time whilst working from home and turning their digital and social media skills into a side hustle to top up the income and then finding;
"hey, this could be the start of a real business for me because I'm not sure if my employer can afford to take me back after all this".
Today, thousands of people like these have managed to nip away at your business on all manner of social platforms without you even being aware of it.
This is the talent that has been sat in your business for ages, yet you seem to have missed the opportunity to unlock it because you don't really understand social platforms like they do.
Millions of businesses in the UK and around the world can now set up a single online store to sell products, with no fee, on Facebook and Instagram.
The initial stage of the Facebook Shops rollout has been brought forward and extended because of Covid-19.
The stores will appear on business pages, Instagram profiles and through targeted ads.
The company has already used a no-fees approach in its Facebook Marketplace for personal classifieds. So, if you thought that eCommerce was a game changer for retail then compared to this it will be a mere blip in the timeline of the commercial multi-channel retail landscape.
eCommerce - what was that?
This is NOT another channel to stuff social media with all that corporate content that people are ignoring. But for the employees to be themselves and to talk on social in an authentic way.