Just this week we read about Blue Nile selling a $300,000 diamond, and over a smartphone. We wondered about its size and qualifications - just curiosity - but the sale itself came as no surprise. Blue Nile has been working the loose diamond business now for years, and has amply proved that these nearly commoditized objects are well suited to Internet selling. After all, can anyone name a company that sells diamonds that went from zero sales to $300 million plus in a handful of years.
Still, there are retailers who think the whole thing is a sham and a lie. I read the comments that appeared on JCK's web site, and was shaking my head over those that came from "deniers." Oh, they said, this was a marketing stunt, there was no such sale, and certainly not on a smartphone. How could anyone buy a stone that expensive without looking at it. One retailer suggested that the buyer got a retailer to bring the stone in, learn all about it, and then bought out without sales tax after it was returned to the supplier. Others suggested that the public will come back to retailers once they realize how important that face to face interaction is. Really?
On the other hand, there were retailers who exclaimed that this was reality, that the future of the business was with a strong Internet presence. I am sure they sense, probably rightly, that a well thought out strategy of Internet and brick and mortar sales is a viable future. One said straight out that retailers ought to get with it or pack it in.
We have been seeing these passionate exchanges for years now. We frequently read of long-established stores closing up. Sure, part of that is the desire for the owners to retire. Retailing is long hours and dedicated work. But the other part is that retail stores are not easily sold. Internet retailers, as we have seen, can quickly attract big money investors. One business model is approaching obsolescence. The other is burgeoning.
Take your choice.