Competitors Will Struggle Until They Find Amazon-like Platform
Lawrence Martin, a 2007 Harbert MBA graduate, believes cloud technology and the autonomous revolution is more than just the next big thing in retail. It’s already here.
“What people are really searching for is that ability to connect between services, goods, processes, organizations — an ongoing connection between people and machines and the economy,” said the chief software development officer at Epicor, a global leader in software for manufacturing, distribution, retail and distribution industries.
The pandemic thrust the worldwide economy to our fingertips, hastening the rush of online shopping, restaurant takeout, even doctors’ office check-ins.
“The question is, will the pendulum pull back to the other direction?” he asked. “I don’t think so. Think about the Home Depots and Lowes, the home goods stores, the stores that offer building supplies and so forth, how they’ve grown over the pandemic. Much of that has to do with demand.
“These retailers expanded their e-commerce platforms and these platforms have become more sophisticated. So has their ability to move goods and services and inventory and supply chain between their locations to meet
With any advancement, of course, comes challenges. How can we make this great new tool better? How can this tool not be monopolized?
“The first challenge would be access,” he said. “We tend to think of internet connectivity as something for all, but that’s not the reality in the rural parts of America.
“The second part of that is we’re still in this Amazon effect age. They’ve changed and disrupted the retail space, the supply chain space, the way we used to do business. This is good and bad. It’s good because Amazon has forced other industries to innovate, to take advantage of technologies that they wouldn’t have in the past.
“The downside of that is the impact on local retailers.”
Martin noted that other companies, such as Alibaba or eBay, offer consumer opportunities, but don’t offer the same opportunities for retailers to create their own identities in a more consumer-friendly atmosphere.
“That’s what Amazon’s big effect is. They created a customer experience that others have not been able