The Evolution of the Everything Store

The world of commerce never stays still. Businesses are always analyzing consumer behavior and researching developing trends to find out what people really want. Occasionally, an innovator spots a gap in the market and creates a solution that changes everything. One such solution is the “everything store.”   

What is the Everything Store?

The concept of the everything store is simple: if you need it, they have it. Also known as “general retailers,” these stores offer the convenience of buying snack foods, sporting goods, personal electronics and auto parts in one transaction. The draw for consumers is that these stores align with their busy lifestyles, which no longer allow for the version of errand-running that involves separate trips to the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.

This shift is particularly relevant to those specialty retailers that do still exist. Smaller stores that sell one category of item are seeing some of their customers drift toward one-stop shopping. Stores that cater to the price-conscious consumer are being hit particularly hard because many of today’s everything stores focus on their low prices.

Today’s Everything Stores

Today’s most prominent everything stores are Walmart and Amazon. Since its first store opened in 1962, two years before Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was even born, Walmart has offered consumers the lowest prices on a wide variety of goods.   

Now the world’s largest retailer with stores in 27 countries and an international eCommerce business, Walmart continues to capitalize on its ability to offer a variety of items. Whether a customer needs baby shampoo, batteries, a new microwave or a smartphone, Walmart offers it all under one roof and at reliably low prices.   

For a while, Walmart was the go-to place for getting anything you wanted for less. Now, however, Amazon is threatening to displace it by offering even more of a variety with even more convenience.

 The Everything Store in the Digital Age

Amazon first opened in 1995 as an internet-based bookstore out of Jeff Bezos’s garage. It went public just two years later. Part of its rapid success stems from its evolution at a time when eCommerce was both increasingly popular and easy to break into. However, while other companies didn’t have the business know-how to support any kind of staying power, Amazon’s numbers looked good from the get-go.

In the fourth quarter of 1996, Amazon more than doubled its revenue to $8.47 million from $4.17 million in the previous quarter. In the first quarter of the following year, the company doubled its income again with a revenue total of $16 million. This kind of success can only come from a company with its finger on the pulse of consumer behavior. In the past 20 years, Amazon has proven its business acumen repeatedly with highly popular innovations. Perhaps its most impactful was its shift from an online book retailer to the world’s premier internet-based everything store.

Amazon’s commitment to expansion has helped it to thrive while other online retailers have fizzled. It has even allowed the company to overcome the decline of its own original niche of hard copy media. In the second quarter of 2009, when its global media sales experienced only marginal growth, its “electronics and general merchandise” category expanded by 35 percent. 

Amazon shows no signs of slowing down. In 2017, its shares exceeded the $1,000 per share benchmark. First quarter revenue in that same year grew to $35.7 billion, a 23 percent increase, and operational cash flow increased by $6 billion to $17.6 billion.

Amazon continues to expand both within and across product categories. In 2017, it acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, thus creating a storm of media coverage and enhancing its ability to serve the grocery delivery market. 

Amazon’s unprecedented and ruthless success is not just remarkable. It is proof that in today’s competitive global marketplace, a business’s best chance of success is to stay a step or two ahead of the curve.   

Virginia Wesleyan University understands the importance of partnering innovation with quality. Our online MBA program balances education in emerging trends and global business development with a thorough grounding in advanced business leadership skills, all in an online format that is accessible to today’s busy professional. Contact the University today to find out how this program can help you make your mark on business.