More and more industry reports are covering the change in consumer purchasing habits due to a lack of time to spend going to the store or the mall. These reductions in consumer free time, and more accurately an increase in time spent working and will family and school activities translates into a decrease in time available for purchasing, translates into the increase in eCommerce sales. This increase in eCommerce sales is also increasing as a result of mobile technology and high bandwidth wireless service. These changes in time and technology allows the consumer to purchase any time and any where, however electronic, or virtual, consumer shopping has not progressed in the same capacity or capabilities.
eCommerce can support consumer research and purchasing efficiently and effectively for any product type and this has driven the increase in eCommerce retail sales. The missing piece now is the social aspect of shopping to replace the physical shopping with friends and family. Many product types such as electronics, or commodity type products such as food or hardware are a natural fit into the current eCommerce capabilities. Apparel and fashion though requires an additional level of support to encourage and support the return and retention of consumers, I call this the social community aspect of shopping.
The shopping social community provides virtual and near real time interaction between both consumers and the retailer. These two aspects highlight the difference between purchasing and shopping. Fashion and apparel require shopping in order to obtain the opinions and suggestions of friends and family prior to purchasing. Currently consumers purchase additional pieces to compare sizes and colors when purchasing apparel online and then they can compare the size and colors. The consumer’s social community will tend to decrease the amount of test purchases for color and style because it will supports the ability to obtain opinions and suggestions for style and color.
The greatest benefit of the social community shopping is the retention of consumers on the retailer’s site and more importantly the return of consumers to the retail site. This combination provides an extremely valuable potential and opportunity for the retailer to increase sales and become a standard starting point for consumer online shopping. Think about the type of impact and increase in sales that can be generated if the retailer can provide the type of site that encourages consumers to return and participate with friends and family in the same manner that Facebook or Snapchat or YouTube encourage people to return?
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?