The recent holiday shopping events beginning with the lead to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and then Green Monday I see one of the key tools embraced by consumers to be the smartphone and then I see the growth in tablet type technology. These platforms allow the retailer to provide different perspectives to consumers and optimize the platform to take advantage of the strengths of each platform. We’ve seen the impact in the channel sales percentage rather dramatically this year in that while the sales from the store channel have been flat, the sales from the eCommerce channel have increased and even spread out over the sales events to the point where I have heard suggestions that eCommerce should be included in the standard retail events and not segregated as online only events.
There are three key activities to retail purchases;
- Consumer searching, or shopping, for products whether specific products or impulse purchases. Prior to the Internet age this was done in person at malls primarily. This shopping became both a social event for shoppers to meet friends and family as an outing for the family that included purchases. This shopping is now being dramatically impacted by mobile eCommerce capabilities that allow the consumer to perform price checks and also to purchase directly while shopping in person.
- The selection and purchase of the product by the consumer. Again, this is the actual sale and can be performed either in a store or online from various locations and platforms. This focus on the sale platform has most recently been the focus of omni channel retailers. The growth of the eCommerce channel has been the focus of the majority of retailers recently because omni channel shoppers are much more profitable than single channel shoppers.
- The delivery of the product to the consumer. There are two types of delivery based on the retail channel. The purchase of the product in a store delivers the product to the consumer at the time of the sale and then the consumer transports the product themselves to their home. The purchase of the product online includes delivery of the product by a shipping carrier to the consumer’s desired delivery point, whether themselves or some else as a gift.
This year is showing that the consumers have embraced the concept of the key activities I describe above to blend the activities across sales channels. Consumers are eliminating the segmentation of the channels through mobile technology, smartphones and improvements in wireless networks and access. Yet again, retailers have been building capabilities and tools from an initial focus of sales channel (store or online) and the consumers have put this technology together in different fashions to meet their desires and shopping requirements. The velocity of these changes will only increase and omni channel retailers must be prepared to change with the new demands of the consumer as the consumer redefines the meaning of omni channel retail shopping.
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?