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来源: 中国译协网

CE239

Traditional Department Stores: the “Disappearing Industry”?

    According to the statistics, the total transactions of China’s e-commerce market hit RMB 7 trillion in 2011, with an annual increase of 46.4% compared to the previous year. The achievements of the e-commerce have posed a great challenge to the market share of traditional department store industry. Given no substantial change in demand for the short term, the fact that a growing number of people go online shopping means the corresponding customer loss for the department stores. Insiders said that the categories in the department store industry with considerable sale decline in recent years were precisely those convenient to purchase online, such as household electrical appliances, IT products, textiles, and even luxury goods.

    At the same time, some traditional department stores also face the embarrassment of being reduced to the “fitting room” for e-commerce. Many people go to the stores to choose the style and size of clothes and other products, and then purchase them online, which gives birth to the so-called “number-copying clan” and “secret-photographing clan”. With the expansion of online market, clothes, cosmetics, household products and other items have all been embraced into online shopping, where the consumers select products at stores and buy online.

    E-commerce’s occupation of the market aside, intense competition within the industry, which has resulted from serious homogenization among traditional department stores, cannot be underestimated either. Besides, recent years have witnessed a surging wave of building shopping centers and malls by a large number of cities across the country, which adds to the difficulty in operating department stores given the already fierce competition. Almost all the department stores in the commercial blocks present quite similar sale contents, store design and product layout. According to a Ph.D. candidate, the shopping malls of different cities from Beijing to Fuzhou share much resemblance.

    Under both internal and external pressure, will the traditional department stores become the next “disappearing industry”? Several experts interviewed have said that although the traditional department store industry is facing huge pressure from competition, it does stand a chance. By virtue of the integration of online and offline sale, differentiation competition and business mode innovation, department store industry may successfully “counter-attack”.

    It is learnt that a considerable number of department stores have “gone online”. Since 2012, large department stores in Beijing have successively launched their online e-commerce platforms. The e-commerce of Tianjin Department Store is currently under implementation as well.

    Meanwhile, department stores should follow the strategy of differentiated management and marketing in line with target customers. As a Ph.D. supervisor emphasized, although in recent years the department stores faced increasingly severe business environment and intense competition from e-commerce and large commercial complexes, they lost only a portion of their customers. Department stores should further cultivate their current customer group, improve after-sale services and explore personalized service for customers.

    In addition, traditional department stores should take advantage of the momentum of shopping center for transition. It is learnt that there is a correspondence law between the structure of retail industry and per capita GDP. The per capita GDP of $3,000-5,000 corresponds to large-scale comprehensive supermarkets mainly, while per capita GDP of $5,000-10,000 corresponds to shopping centers, franchised stores, specialty stores, and convenience stores. As China’s per capita GDP has surpassed $5,000 in 2011, traditional department stores should seize the opportunity to transform themselves into shopping centers or other forms.

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