Over the previous few years consumers have been trending to eCommerce purchasing during the holiday season and especially the Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick-off weekend.  I believe that this year will continue that trend in a much greater way and I also believe that retailers must begin now to prepare for this change.  This year may not be the year where eCommerce sales match brick and mortar sales however this year will show that eCommerce sales are poised to match brick and mortar sales and then over the next year or two eCommerce will surely overcome brick and mortar sales.  This is the next in a series of retail market upheavals that are driven by the changing consumer focus and the advances in mobile technology.

 

I think the upheaval this year will come from an increase in brick and mortar ‘window shopping’ coupled with an increase in eCommerce purchasing.  This is a continuation of last year where overall sales increased and brick and mortar sales were relatively flat.  The shift this year will be fueled again by mobile technology and social networking and third party shopping tools.  I have said previously that retailers and especially omni channel retailers must focus on social networking consumer interaction to build the consumer relationship and increase the retention on their eCommerce site.  Smart phone technology and consumer usage is continuously increasing and this increase in usage and capabilities brings with it an opportunity for consumers to shop virtually using social networking tools and third party mobile shopping tools to allow them to shop across locations and channels virtually. 

 

I think consumers will utilize these tools to improve their shopping experience and reduce the confusion in purchasing and also reduce their labor in purchasing.  Amazon has been continuously working to improve and simplify their shopping experience through technology such as the Echo and through services such as Prime.  I think that consumer usage of virtual purchasing services such as Prime are poised and ready to dramatically increase this year along with the increase in mobile shopping and purchasing.   It is just too easy to shop at the mall with friends and family to touch and try products and then purchase via mobile technology and sites such as Amazon and have the products delivered directly to your home at no cost.  Consumers would be foolish not to take advantage of these capabilities, and consumers are not foolish.

 

I think we are reaching, if we haven’t already reached, the tipping point where consumers shop and purchase across channels without concern about the channel or retailer loyalty.  Retailers are realizing that they cannot compete only on prices and hope to remain successful and they are focusing more and more on loyalty programs.  Retailers are missing a critical piece of the consumer relationship by only focusing on omni channel purchasing and loyalty programs and must begin to focus more on consumer collaboration and relationship development and management.  Retailers have only focused on the sales aspect of the relationship and consumers are now reacting to this through mobile technology and social networking and retailers must now focus on consumer relationships to maintain success.

 

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?