Most U.S. consumers, and many retailers for that matter, have probably never heard of Rakuten. But if Japan’s largest e-commerce marketplace has its way, that will soon change: The company has set its sights on becoming a household name in the United States. An even loftier goal: outpacing e-commerce giant Amazon.com.
A generational shift is afoot that’s about to upend the retail landscape.
The root cause of the impending transformation lies in changing demographics. By the decade’s end, millennials, also know as Generation Y, will displace baby boomers as the biggest consumer-spending group in the United States. Broadly defined as the generation born from 1980 to 2000, these “echo boomers” will account for approximately $1.4 trillion in spending by 2020, or about 30% of total retail sales, according to Accenture research.
It’s 2020, and our shopper is ready to relax after a busy and productive Saturday. She started off the day at Kohl’s, where she tried on several cocktail dresses a store associate had texted her about earlier. The associate knew from past purchases that our shopper favored animal prints and a-line cuts.
Demand for American brands around the globe is getting bigger every day. There are currently more than 2 billion prospective global customers, and about 25% of the traffic from U.S. retail sites comes from international shoppers, according to industry experts, with Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Russia and Hong Kong currently the top international markets for U.S. retailers.
Let the games begin.
Retailers are gearing up for the Super Bowl of the holiday-selling season, when stores generate up to 40% of their annual sales and boost their staffs in light of the heightened shopping spree.
As technology reshapes the retail landscape at a dizzying pace, it’s also advancing the art and science of aligning sales and traffic patterns with in-store labor — particularly crucial during the make-or-break winter selling period.
Go offline, young man: That appears to be the mantra of e-commerce merchants these days.
As competition in the world of online retailing heats up — with Amazon's ever-burgeoning dominance posing the biggest threat — more pure-players are taking the brick-and-mortar plunge. It's a reminder, many experts say, of the strong appeal of the in-store experience — even when stacked up against the convenience of online shopping.