business news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters reports this morning on how US bricks-and-mortar retailers "are racing to catch up with e-commerce giant Amazon.com in fast-growing online sales. Retailers ranging from department store Macy's Inc. to discounters like Wal-Mart Stores are linking online and in-store inventory systems, speeding shipping and promoting exclusive products to counter Amazon, which dominates U.S. online sales."

Other excerpts from the story:

• "Forrester Research expects online sales to climb 10 percent for 2013. According to an Ipsos poll conducted for Reuters in August, nearly as many shoppers plan to shop primarily online (15 percent) this holiday as in physical stores (19 percent). Some mainstream retailers have seen online sales growth soften the blow of persistent retail malaise. Online sales helped chains like Nordstrom offset weak department store results last quarter."

• "U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the second quarter of 2013 were an estimated $60.2 billion, or just 5.8 percent of total sales in that period, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. E-commerce sales jumped 18.4 percent from the second quarter of 2012. Total retail sales increased 4.5 percent, the commerce department said."

• "Experts said companies such as Victoria's Secret parent Limited Brands Inc., Saks, Macy's and Nordstrom Inc. are leading the move to 'omnichannel' retailing, which covers everything from actual stores to personal computers and mobile phones ... Companies rooted in catalog sales, such as Limited Brands, lead the pack when it comes to such efforts. They ultimately aim to have up-to-date information on every available product, whether it is in a massive distribution center or a single store."
KC's View:
Despite the occasional accusation that I am so totally in love with Amazon that I have lost perspective about many bricks-and-mortar retailers, I think this piece actually makes the point that I've been trying to make - that Amazon has changed virtually all the rules of retailing, and competitors have to improve their games, and even learn new rules, if they are going to succeed. It is incredibly satisfying to do business with a retailer that is competing with Amazon successfully, either through an effective online offering or a store experience that is so compelling that it makes online a secondary option. Or, best of all, combining the two for a home run.