Can Department Store Product Managers Use The Internet To Save Their Stores?

Department stores are becoming where online products can be found
Department stores are becoming where online products can be found
Image Credit: m01229

In this wonderful modern age in which we are all living, just about anything can be purchased online. However, there is a downside to this. You can’t touch online products. You can’t hold them in your hands and feel them. You can’t try them on. What’s missing from this whole online shopping experience is the ability to get close to the items that we are thinking about buying. Perhaps this is where the department store product managers could come in. Do they hold the secret to getting online products into real customer’s hands?

Why Department Stores Have Become Attractive

Let’s face it, it’s been hard to be a department store product manager for the past few years. With the arrival of online shopping, more and more people are no longer going out to the mall to go shopping – they are just clicking on their computers. What this has meant for a lot of department stores that are traditionally located in malls is that they have seen a lot less traffic and the result of this is that they have had to shut their doors. Just about now, department store product managers are getting a bit desperate to find ways to change their product development definition to make their product, the store, more attractive.

It appears that there is some good news for department store product managers. The next generation of commerce is coming to department stores. The retail future promises to look nothing like it has in the past. There is a new concept at work here. The new concept is based on something called “the marketplace”. A good example of this are firms like Amazon where they only list other’s goods for a fee. What makes a department store that is becoming a marketplace different from an Amazon is that the department store is focused on a collection of ever-shifting internet native brands. Get this right and department store product managers will have something new to put on their product manager resume.

The new idea that department store product managers are exploring is when brands basically rent space in the department stores. When they do this they get to keep all of what they make from sales. In many of these stores, most of the items can be purchased off of the shelf just like you would do at a normal department store. When a customer is leaving with their purchases, they simply scan a bar code into the store’s app on their mobile device. In the case that a store runs out of an item that a customer wants, the customer can still buy it through the app and then have it delivered to their home.

What The Next Steps For Department Stores Are

The ability of the department stores to now either provide their customers with products off the rack or ship them to the customer’s homes is being called the “endless aisle”. This happens when a physical storefront is attached to an e-commerce site which allows customers to get goods quickly no matter if they are in the store or not.

The challenge that is now facing department store product managers is to find ways to get people to come out to their stores in the first place. What they are starting to realize is that shopping is becoming all about the experience. This may mean that the product managers have to make sure that there are working demos of everything that is being sold in the store. Extra events may be required to get people into the store. This could include exercise classes or events like watercolor painting workshops. What the product managers are trying to achieve is an enjoyable mix of both content and commerce.

Department store product managers want to make sure that they fully understand the customers who come into their stores. In order to make this happen, they are attempting to collect as much data as they can about their customers. Some department store product managers are installing cameras in their stores to capture images of their customers so that they can use AI software to determine their age and sex. Additionally, they are using these video records to create heat maps of where their customers linger in the store and what they end up buying. Additionally, department store product managers have to make sure that they have software to manage their inventory and sales for their products. If they didn’t have this, then they couldn’t work with large retailers.

What All Of This Means For You

Department store product managers are facing some real challenges. Their customers have started shopping at home and so they have stopped coming out to the malls to shop at their stores. What this means is that more and more department stores are starting to close. What department store product managers need is to look at their product manager job description and come up with a way to get customers to once again want to come to their stores. They think that they may have found a way to make this happen and it involves using the internet.

Online shopping has devastated the classic model of the department store. What customers used to have to go out to the department store to get they can now sit at home and click and have it delivered to them the next day. However, a new idea is starting to take shape and it’s getting department store product managers excited. The new idea is called “the marketplace” and in this model the department stores are paid to display items that are being sold by online vendors. When the items get sold, all of the money goes to the online vendor. Customer don’t even have to check out – they can pay with their mobile devices. If the store is out of what they want, then it can be ordered online and shipped to the customer. Merging the department store with the online vendor is creating what is being called the “endless aisle”. Product managers now need to get their customers to come back to their stores. They are doing this by holding events in their stores. Department store product managers want to know who is shopping in their stores so they are using technology to monitor their customers and collect data that they can use.

Many people had already written department stores off as a dying breed. However, the department store product managers never gave up. With online vendors needing to put their products in customers hands before they buy, there may be a new reason for department stores to exist. Clever department store product managers are striking agreements with online vendors and using their merchandise to attract people back to their stores. We’re going to have to keep our eyes on the department stores and see if this new idea can save the old department stores.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How do you think that department store product managers can get customers back into their stores?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When it comes time for you to get some groceries, what do you do? If you are like most of us, you jump into your car. Drive to the grocery store. Shop for what you want and buy it. Then you jump into your car again and drive home. It turns out that this is a really inefficient way of going about doing things and the product managers at grocery stores want to make some changes. However, in order to make those changes they are first going to have to update their product development definition and invent some grocery delivery robots.