When location isn't everything ... and when it is

We just returned to the office from a major industry event, the Internet Retailer Conference 2012. Even though the conference is focused on internet retail, the first thing everyone asks each other is, “Where are you located?”

This is an odd question, because it doesn’t matter where our office is located. We are an internet company, like most of the other exhibitors at this conference.

An online presence makes location irrelevant, because a retailers' products become accessible to shoppers anywhere in the world. Among the list of the top 100 retailers, web-based stores like Amazon, QVC, and Dell don’t have “locations” in the traditional sense.

Although Catalogs.com has physical offices, our location is online – we really are everywhere.

The phenomenon of internet retail multiplies markets and obliterates boundaries. From small specialty shops to huge international retailers, location is where there is an internet connection. It is exciting that industrious upstart retailers can establish a retail venture without a brick and mortar store because they can conduct business on the web.

But sometimes, location is everything.

“Location, location, location,” was the mantra of William Thomas Dillard, founder of Dillard’s Department Stores.

Mr. Dillard knew a thing or two about the retail business.


At the IRCE 2012, this year’s change in the exhibit hall floor plan was not the best idea. Exhibitors were assigned to quadrants by industry type. This arrangement diminished general foot traffic by channeling attendees directly to specific quadrants instead of encouraging “window shopping.”

Because many exhibitors invested over $15,000 on a “bricks and mortar” booth location to showcase their internet-based services and innovations, most were dismayed with the marked decrease in booth visits this year compared to past years.

Even though many of us work in the online world where location doesn’t matter, we can still think like traditional retailers. At the mall, all the shoe stores aren’t in one section, and all the perfumers in another.

Diversity in the layout and distribution of business types is the key to the mall's success.

When conducting business depends upon personal interaction – not online transactions – being where your potential customers are is critical. You can’t count on the customer going out of their way to find you; you have to be where the customers are. Location translates into foot traffic, exposure and ROI.

What role does location play in your retail business?

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