This year took a first and very strong step in proving the potential of online sales based on the shift from brick-and-mortar sales to online sales experienced on the Black Friday weekend. This was however the first step and there are many things that can happen that will impact and change the direction of online sales. The big question in my opinion though is where does the next big step come from in eCommerce? In my opinion, the next big step is in the retail store showroom concept and I think that consumer delivery capabilities will be the next frontier that drive the changes in consumer shopping and purchasing habits.
This year one of the big winners, again, was Amazon and their Prime subscription service that bundles free two-day shipping with other member benefits especially from Amazon streaming video. The combination of Amazon one-click purchasing and free two-day delivery for Prime members has really flung the doors open for consumer mobile shopping. Last year I suggested that mobile technology will allow consumers to shop in stores, try on clothing along and try out large ticket items and then search for the best price on their smartphone and execute the sale to arrange delivery of their purchases directly to their home. This year suggests to me that this trend has started. This seems to be the best explanation for the changes in purchasing identified over the Black Friday weekend.
This is a dramatic change in direction that can have a very significant impact on retail, both positive and negative. The changes in the store will be dramatic and will focus on a couple of key areas; inventory and also impulse purchasing. One of the key benefits delivered by the retail store is the impulse sales of products or outfits or place settings that catch the consumer’s eye at the time. The shift in inventory practices can have a significant impact on these types of impulse purchases. The impact to the in store impulse buying from reduced inventory can be overcome by providing free and fast delivery of the purchase and especially when purchased in the store.
Another requirement of online marketing is the consumer loyalty program, or at a minimum tracking consumer sales through online registration. This allows the retailer to identify and focus on the individual's specific previous purchases in order to push notifications and sales of similar products. This type of focused and individual online marketing practice can replace the brick and mortar consumer impulse purchases. The combination of swift delivery and improved online marketing will support the next shift in consumer shopping; the allow the consumer to purchase and not be required to carry all of the bags around the mall.
And now for the audience participation portion of the show…
ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors. How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience? Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes. In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas. How can you support these continuously changing requirements?