Local Stores Aggregated Search Engine
This holiday season, I purchased approximately 90% of all my gifts on Amazon. I’m sure I’m not the only one. Being reliant on e-commerce is not something that happened overnight. When I was in college, it started with textbooks. Then when CompUSA shattered, I started ordering electronics. Then books. Now everything else.
The reasons are:
- Reviews. The reviews and comments on Amazon are informative and detailed
- Convenience. I work on my laptop most of the day. Getting my shopping done without leaving my desk saves me a great deal of time and gasoline.
- Certainty. This is crucial. If it’s listed on Amazon, I know they have it in stock.
No product category, except perishable groceries, is protected from my online shopping habits.
This year, these are the local establishments that among my family and friends lost business to Amazon:
- Toys R Us
- Office Depot
- My dermatologist office
- Sports Authority
- Barnes and Noble
- Best Buy
- Apple Store
What can they and other local businesses do to make their customers return to their brick and mortar stores? How can they save the local work force? What is the future of brick n mortar? Currently, some of these businesses do offer websites where you can order, but we are talking about saving their physical stores. Some of them show product reviews, although not as good as on Amazon. Are they convenient? No. You still have to go to the store. Do they offer certainty? Hell, NO! How many times do you go to a store to find out that it’s not in stock?
Something needs to be done, and I believe I have a solution. There needs to be a pooling and aggregation of local businesses and their inventory. This should be accessed through an online search engine.
Let’s say you need a new electric razor. Imagine if you opened a new tab in your browser and searched for it. The result page would be a listing of the local stores that have it in stock, with customer reviews and the option to pickup or have it delivered the same day. Would you still order on Amazon?
For my daughter this year, I wanted to buy a rocking horse just a couple of days before Christmas. It was too late to order from Amazon. I had a horrible experience trying to find it locally. I had no clue where it was in stock, so I had to drive to half a dozen stores looking for one, and calling a few others. What if I could have done a local stock search online? Whoever had it in stock would have had a quick sale.
I believe this is the future of local brick n mortar stores. People are becoming less and less impulsive buyers. They research their products online and know what to buy. But most of us want it fast, and would be happy to buy it locally….if it was convenient and there was stock certainty.