The Retail Puzzle


At the start of the year I spoke on a panel at CES.  If you don’t know it, it is the Consumer Electronic show–one of the largest conventions in the world with 2.2 million square feet of space and 170,000 attendees.  I was blown away by the amazing technology as I spent days attempting to quickly walk the exhibition floor.  My first thought when I saw this amazing technology was, thank goodness people work on what they want to work on, and building drones and 3D printers is more fun than digital marketing or I would be out of a job.  There are literally millions of brilliant people working on really cool technology that the world does not need–we don’t need fifty companies making 3D printers.  I had a similar experience at NRF (National Retail Federation’s expo) seeing the countless companies building facial recognition and electronic changing room mirrors that you can communicate with.

With all of this technology, you’d think we had covered it all.  Or at least the important stuff.  Not even close.  Unfortunately, the most important problems aren’t always the most fun problems to solve.  Numerous people have commented on the lack of technology to help reduce climate change, poverty, hunger, etc.  While these problems facing humanity are clearly of the utmost importance, there is also an important business problem that was not addressed at either expo or in the countless presentations and articles I have read about on the future of retail.  That missing piece is the connection between offline and online.

Retail is obviously a huge industry (1 in 4 or 42 million US jobs, 3.8MM stores, $2.6 trillion or 11.6% of GDP).  Not to bore you with statistics, you will trust me that hospitality (hotels and restaurants) and real estate are also huge industries.  With all of these industries, the most common path to purchase is research online purchase in store, or in person in the case of real estate and hospitality.  Research online, purchase in store… Research online, purchase in store.  This trend happens over and over and over again.  Yet there is almost no one (yours truly excluded) focussed on connecting these two parts to the purchase funnel.

Why is this piece missing?  Because it is really hard and a bit boring (to most people).  I think it is hugely exciting to affect the 73% of retail that is researched online and then purchased in store (

If you care to bridge the two halves of your customers’ journey, we at Purple Cloud are here to help.