In 1965, Bob Dylan donned an electric guitar at Newport Folk Festival. At the time, his repertoire of bare acoustic songs, politically-charged lyrics and ‘voice made of tar and sand’, made Dylan a reluctant leading figure of the early 60s folk scene.
Then he went electric. Following the Beatles, the Stones, and Hendrix, Dylan saw an amplified, rock and roll movement in the 60s that was fitting into a cultural demand and winning a loyal and growing fanbase, and did the unexpected by entering into it.
At the time, some of his loyal folk-loving fans weren't happy by this move. But now, Dylan’s move to rock and roll is widely celebrated, with his defiance and rebellion against the folk scene contributing to his legacy as one of the most important musicians of the past century.
The conflict between traditional and modern isn’t only applicable to music. Retail is an industry that has—only in the past decade—been imbued by this juxtaposition. The current trend is pretty clear, as retailers are not just ‘going electric’, but rather ‘going online’.
So, who are the rock stars in this scenario? Nordstrom, Gap Inc, Macy’s, and Kohl’s are currently the retailers with the most revenue from online sales in US. And, don’t worry, I’m not going to single out which retailer is the Dylan-like figure, or who’s the Jagger-equivalent; that simile ends here.
The point is some of the most successful moves have departed from what worked in the past, to lead what is happening in the present. This makes artists, industries, and individuals able to stay connected to a fast-changing world.
Trade is one of societies oldest practices, yet the act of physically going to shops is now competing with the convenience and choice of e-Commerce. That's why e-Commerce is a big business, whose success relies on more than just posting images online and having a web shop. The online consumer is everywhere, and the main challenge is making compelling content and marketing it in the right places to reach them. Nowadays, it isn't enough to simply go online, retailers have to channel current tech developments to fit into the demands of the modern customer.
So, is this the end of offline retail? Many believed that Dylan’s move to electric signalled the end of folk music. We can see today that folk isn’t dead, just as traditional shopping isn’t either. But, just as rock and roll did in the late 60s, e-Commerce is very much leading the way—which is why it's important for online retailers to abandon convention and stay ahead.
If you run an e-Commerce site or are thinking about 'going online', you'll have to keep pace in the digital race and overcome content marketing challenges to stay relevant to your audience. Download the free e-book today.