Tech firms vs retail giants: Pick your side

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Retail brands used to wage war against each other. Now the competition is between traditional retailers and tech companies, and it shows no signs of slowing as the two sectors fight for their share of the market.

The big five tech firms of eBay, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are ramping up their presence in the real world while traditional retailers such as Walmart are boosting their online clout. These insights were shared by a panel of experts at the International Council of Shopping Centres’ annual convention (RECon).

SAS Institute Executive Adviser Lori Schafer said: “Right now the bull’s-eye is aimed at retail.”

The US$60 billion firm Amazon is forecasted to grow to US$200 billion in 2017. A portion of that growth will be driven by merchandise not aimed at generating profit but rather to fill the globe with more devices that facilitate purchases from Amazon.

However, brick-and-mortar retailers are also putting up a fight, noted Citigroup Managing Director Deborah Weinswig.

For example, Walmart has hired a dedicated IT team and has introduced many features to compete with the tech giants. These include a “pay with cash” option for online purchases, wherein people can order an item via the internet and pay in person at a Walmart outlet where the merchandise will be delivered.

In this advanced age where information is gold, checking reviews and price comparisons is just as important to many buyers as seeing an item on a shelf.

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