eCommerce is no longer just an add-on to conventional brick and mortar sales, but an integral part of business strategy. Customers are buying online with increased frequency, while also using mobile to research purchasing decisions before stepping foot in a store. Whether it’s a physical storefront or a digital one, eCommerce solutions need to meet customers where they’re at in order to maximize profits for businesses and provide seamless shopping experiences for customers.
A new report from Kiplinger shows eCommerce sales up 14% this year, a number that will constitute 9% of all retail sales and 13% of all goods sales by the end of 2017. The report also found that in-store sales are increasing, up 1.8% in 2017 from a 1.4% increase last year.
This highlights the need for integrated eCommerce and in-store solutions. Even organizations you might not immediately associate with eCommerce are treating the two with increasingly equal weight.
“Brick retailers are moving fast. They have significant assets and they’re working to serve the shopper. And don’t think of e-commerce as a channel. It’s a way for consumers to research, to buy, to experience brands and then, ultimately, to have them fulfilled,” said Sandy Douglas, vice president of Coca-Cola North America, at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in early September, Marketing Week reports.
“Think of pizza, for example. Pizza orders have moved onto apps. Our incidence of beverage attachment, if we’re well merchandised on a digital app, is 50% higher than on telephone,” Douglas continued.
“Whether it’s the experience, the order, the in-home out-of-stock or click-and-collect, we’re working with retailers to figure out how can we sell the occasion of the collect. But all of it adds up to being another big merchandising opportunity and a chance for us to sell more beverages.”
To be truly successful, the two must work together.
“Both traditional brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce play important roles and can thrive together. The true winner will be those companies that are best able to serve the changing demands of consumers in any format,” reports National Real Estate Investor.
However, the article continues, “e-commerce falls woefully short in delivering unique and qualitative experiences for shoppers.”
Despite increases in online spending, retail still makes a significant majority of its revenue from in store purchasing. Retailers now have an opportunity to step up and create powerful, innovative and effective experiences for their customers online as well.
What Can Retailers Do About This?
Retailers and merchandisers have to think outside of the proverbial (pizza) box. We’ve found that many are shifting or are considering shifting to omnichannel solutions. Omnichannel solutions can create seamless customer experiences across multiple points of contact, be it mobile, desktop or brick and mortar. According to Google, 60% of online shoppers start a purchase on one device and finish on another. What can be done to make this as easy as possible for your customer?
Micro-moments are a key area of opportunity. These are the touchpoints where a customer might not be planning to make a purchase at that exact moment, but they are turning to a device to research something. Often these come during periods of waiting, perhaps for a coffee to be ready, a bus to come, a meeting to start, and so on. How can you provide the information your customers need so they can make the purchase as soon as they’re ready? Ideally right away?
Others are introducing new concepts and experimenting with novel technologies like Web VR to enhance endless aisle capabilities. By reimagining the digital space and how to best meet the needs of customers online, a whole new world of opportunity opens up. How can novel technologies provide a rich contextual layer to your eCommerce experiences?
Mobile remains an open portal of opportunity in eCommerce. Mobile usage has surpassed desktop usage, but purchases have not followed.
“Mobile is now the busiest device for traffic, but seriously underperforms for revenue,” research from Wolfgang Digital found.
Sometimes called mCommerce, for mobile commerce, conversion remains low as customers often abandon the process due to poor user experiences, a lack of mobile optimization, limited screen size, speed and connectivity issues, payment input issues, and other issues.
Now is the time for retailers to truly think about how they can optimize their eCommerce solutions to meet customers where they are: on mobile devices and elsewhere.