Watching retail and e-commerce trends can be entertaining, to say the least. Take Amazon for example – they have finally gone full circle. After devouring the retail bookstores Borders, Waldenbooks, and B. Dalton Bookseller, Amazon opened their first brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle. According to some recent reports, this is just the beginning. Some speculated that hundreds of locations are in the works, and they will likely be more than just bookstores.
This is not surprising. After all, technology has created a major disruption in the retail shopping ecosystem, and we’re just now beginning to see a pattern emerging. Some retail companies saw blood in the water and abandoned their retail locations to do business online, desperate to avoid being victimized by showroomers, or shoppers that browse at their retail locations – or “showrooms” – but defer their purchasing to online retailers like Amazon who offer lower prices due to reduced overhead.
In the last few years, consumer shopping behavior has shifted and trended in the opposite direction. Customers were either unable or unwilling to find satisfaction shopping exclusively in the digital world, and wound up returning to brick-and-mortar stores to make their purchases. This behavior has been dubbed webrooming – which describes customers that use the Internet to do the research and comparison, but ultimately make a purchase in store.
But a new style of shopper is now emerging. The numbers say it all. During 2015 holiday season, retail sales grew 3% and online sales grew 9%. Based on Amazon’s recent moves, it’s pretty safe to assume that they are well aware of and projected the retail and e-commerce trends. Initially, industry analysts predicted that e-commerce would have a devastating effect on traditional retail, but as it turns out that e-commerce and traditional retail are now more compliments to each other than competition. This is all due to the new omnishopper; one who is defined as a person that interacts with brands across multiple channels using technology. The omnishopper doesn’t shop online exclusively any more than they shop in a retail location. They have integrated technology into their lives and base their shopping behavior on other factors. In many ways, their buying habits have evolved faster than most of the retail and e-commerce institutions have.
What can we learn from Amazon? From what we can piece together (albeit anecdotally and with much speculation), is that their plan seems to involve making a seamless transition between web and retail. It’s likely that their retail store inventories will match their online inventories, which will give customers great flexibility in being able to find, compare, and purchase an item they found in a retail location and vice-versa. Best Buy was a front runner for this. They moved quickly and used their e-commerce site in-store to assist customers locating specific products. If inventories were low at one of their stores, a sales rep could order the item online for either in-store or home delivery.
A recent study has shown that 8 out of 10 consumers use a PC, tablet, or smartphone to shop and buy. Many of these use mobile technology while in a retail store to compare products online. The same study also illuminated the fact that about 73% of consumers find inventory availability problems frustrating and 63% feel the same way about inventories that differ between store and web. Besides information security, the next most frustrating factor is not knowing product specifications.
Custom web tools and strategic planning can help retailers of any size integrate their brick-and-mortar and online presence. Retailers can use technology and design to optimize the shopping experience. The first step is to create a custom user interface and product sorting and filtering tools to create a web experience that is in concert with the retail shopping experience.
Visit our product configurator page to learn more about how this can make a huge difference. We cannot look at retail and e-commerce as mutually exclusive anymore. Success will be found by integrating these into a cohesive system.
Insivia prides itself at being at the forefront of technology and offers smart solutions to deliver results. Contact us today for a free consultation to develop your e-commerce site in Cleveland or the US and to see how we use our blend of strategic planning, design, and technology to drive sales, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce returns.