Steve Baxter, co-founder and COO of tech company GTRsuite, is new to the furniture industry. And oftentimes, these newcomers—who don’t have any bias or past information to go on—realize some extraordinary things.
Joining just a year and a half ago, Baxter’s background in tech led him to create GTRsuite a tool that gives manufacturers the ability to put store locators on their site, which then directs customers shopping online to their nearest brick-and-mortar retailer.
While talking to Baxter about GTRsuite, we began to talk about e-commerce in general and “disrupting the disrupters.”
By that, he’s talking about Amazon, Wayfair, and others who have been such disrupters online when it comes to searching for furniture because they spend billions of dollars on search. That wins them the ads at the top of the search.
But Wayfair and Amazon don’t have brick-and-mortar stores.
“I think everybody’s so concerned about e-commerce and e-tailing, and understandably so,” he says. “But it can double, it can triple, and it still won’t have a massive impact on brick-and-mortar retail.”
Retailers don’t need to see this as this wave coming at them that they can’t control.
“It’s really easy to fight,” Baxter says. “There’s this concept of the endless aisle from an e-commerce perspective. And the e-commerce guys can talk about how the great thing about e-commerce is, there’s no limit. And after going to markets and seeing retailers go through showrooms all day, pick everything they’re going to buy for a season in the future and hope for the best, I thought, “no wonder e-commerce is killing retailers, the endless aisle is always going to win.’”
Baxter says if he were a retailer, he would be worried about making the wrong decision at markets.
“What if something starts trending next week I’ve already made this decision, like three months ago? I would want to partner with manufacturers that don’t put me in this position where we have to choose what to buy. You generate the demand, you generate the interest and then you tell them where to come to buy them.”
However, what Baxter says is happening right now is that the retailers are creating all the demand, the retailer is spending all the money on trying to get people into their store–which in his opinion is upside down.
He believes that if the industry works together, technology can level the playing field for brick-and-mortar retailers. Retailers don’t need to accept defeat.
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