Back in the day (I feel like I should be lazily drawing from a corn-cob pipe while rocking slowly in a chair as I write this), it was standard operating procedure for me to ask MI retailers, “Does your store have a website?” when conducting an interview. Ten or 12 years ago, the odds of an affirmative or negative response to the question were pretty even. Sure, by the turn of the aughts, everyone knew about the Internet and most people and organizations had email addresses, but many – especially smaller independent businesses – still hadn’t decided if a page was worth the expense, didn’t know how to design a website themselves or who to go to for help, or were wary of online retailing.
I can’t readily recall the last time I asked an MI business whether they had a website, but suffice to say: it’s been a while. The assumption is that most stores have sites now – and those which do not probably at least have a Facebook page, or some type of Internet presence. Add to that the suppliers that have commerce capabilities on their sites, and the many apps being fielded by any number of sources within the industry.
“So what?” you’re likely asking. Am I seriously going to go on for roughly a page, treating “the Internet” like it’s some topical subject?
Kind of, yeah.
While most (if not all) of us are so dependent on the Internet and the ability it affords us to pay bills, make purchases, conduct business, and so on that we take it as a given that functioning companies are of course at least as up to speed as ourselves, there are those who are still dragging their heels when it comes to online commerce and interaction. There are many, actually.
Data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in May of 2012 showed that 75.2 percent of businesses surveyed did not have a website. Surprising, no? Sure, that info is a little outdated and the survey didn’t target MI retailers, specifically, but a cursory Google search of instrument stores nearby to me (New England) would seem to provide at least some anecdotal confirmation that ours is not appreciably that much more tech-savvy than other industries.
On October 23 of this year, Research and Markets – “the leading source for international market research and market data” (if they do say so, themselves) – added the “Global Musical Instruments Market 2012-2016” report to their offerings. According to their findings, the Global Musical Instruments Market is expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 2.64 percent over the period of time covered in the analysis. That’s not bad – growth is better than stagnation or decline. But… Overall Global Retail Sales were projected in July, 2012 (by a competing group, MarketResearch.com) to grow at eight percent during the same time period. 2.64 seems less exciting now, huh?
Research and Markets’ summary names the likes of FMIC, Kawai, Roland, Yamaha, D’Addario, Gibson, QRS, Sennheiser, Shure, and Steinway as being “the key vendors dominating this [MI] space.” No big surprises yet. Within the report, it’s noted that, “one of the key drivers of the market is the rising income of the consumers which is leading to high disposable incomes. Consumers can therefore afford to spend money on musical instruments.” That makes a decent amount of sense. All right – moving on…
Of more interest – and of more relevance to this editorial – is this comment from an analyst on the team who speculates: “The method of retail shopping is changing rapidly and consumers are increasingly using the Internet to purchase a variety of goods which has led to numerous musical instruments companies providing their wide selection through the online space. Companies find the online shopping approach to be a convenient and cost-saving approach as it allows them to target consumers through the web rather than directly through other means. Some of the popular musical instruments websites include snapdeal.com, gibson.com, music123.com, and zzounds.com. The accessibility of instruments online and the preference to buy products online will increase during the forecast period with the increasing knowledge of the Internet. Hence, the rise in online retailing will have a positive impact on the market during the forecast period.”
I’ll let that sink in a bit.
I’m reminded of a campaign this past spring launched by gybo.com (Get Your Business Online) that received a good amount of media attention (check out the well done video on gybo.com’s homepage). Gybo is (predictably) a Google initiative and can be looked at skeptically if being suspicious is your thing, but the message conveyed by the acronym is exactly what you should be taking away from the large-ish Research and Markets quote that I included above: Get. Your. Business. Online.
If you serve a niche market, if you’re a specialty store, if you’re doing fine without embracing the Internet for whatever other reasons – super! Consider yourselves lucky and part of a small minority.
For the rest of us: your customers will continue to conduct more business within the ever-increasingly familiar, safe, and comfortable terrain of the Internet. If you do not plant your flag on that virtual ground, you are going to lose sales. To maintain a willful ignorance of this reality in 2013 (as one – name withheld – retailer said to me, completely non-ironically, only a couple years ago: “We don’t think we need to do the Internet at my store”) is more than fiscal suicide – it’s just dumb.
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