From mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcies, to the demise of brick-and-mortar stores – the retail industry is undergoing a radical sea change.
Retail expert Jon Bird calls it “Third Era” of digital retail. “Traditional barriers and frameworks will fall by the wayside. Everyone can be a retailer and every surface a store.”
At the moment, the most popular way to break down those barriers appears to be with mergers and partnerships. Examples include Amazon’s relationship with Morrisons in the UK using Morrisons ‘s stores as local distribution centers in the UK (as well as buying Whole Foods).
Kroger and Sobeys outsourced online grocery sales to Ocado, while Kroger also bought meal-kit vendor Home Chef. In the same vein, Ahold started selling Hello Fresh meal kits in its stores and Walmart sells smaller meal kits from Home Chef and Sun Basket on its website.
And now French food giant Carrefour is going to make its groceries available on Google (in France) with a new dedicated shopping site - or through Google-operated systems such as smart speakers and voice-assisted devices.
This puts Google, the first step of many a consumer journey, in a unique position in terms of influencing the customer and the path they take… and ultimately what they buy.
This ability to influence the shopper in more mundane items such as groceries is something that has eluded Google until now. I would not be surprised if we see more of these relationships appearing in other countries – the US, Canada, UK are likely to be next.
Amazon is already looking to have this edge in groceries via means of Alexa. In his book The Four, Scott Galloway talks about how Alexa appears to favor specific products – the example given is Amazon-branded batteries versus another brand. He makes a case that Alexa could have the ability to kill off certain brands.
Whatever retailers’ Third Era strategy is, they all require the need to connect systems, things and people together in real-time – across the usual corporate boundaries – something that Software AG has been helping companies with for many years.
The Third Era has definitely arrived. And Software AG is already helping retailers not just adapt, but also to re-think their business models.