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Comment: The future of (e)commerce

Comment: The future of (e)commerce
Friday December 6 2013

Just a year ago everyone was talking about omnichannel and multichannel because we were certain that retailers needed to be online. By Marino Casucci, International Sales Director, FACT-Finder

Today, this is equally true the other way round.

While the debate over omnichannel and multichannel rages on, thousands of new strategies and marketing ideas are being raised but in the end, it all comes down to the behaviour of the individual customer. And that’s the crucial point.

From a company perspective, we organise things in different silos, because we have to organise our warehouse, our structure and our marketing separately. But the consumer doesn’t see all of this, he just behaves in different ways, like watching something online then going offline to pick it up in store. 58% of consumers already combine online and offline shopping. That’s just one example.

Where the pureplay ecommerce retailers come into their own is that having started out as online stores they are much smarter and quicker at adopting new technologies than their more traditional counterparts. But they also have to do something in other channels. Take Amazon for example, the next logical step would be for it to have shops. This might seem like a backwards step, but it’s almost meeting with the traditional retailers who will be catching up by that stage, but coming from the other direction. But they themselves will have a lot of catching up to do.

For traditional retailers, consumer touchpoints are evolving rapidly. Two years ago nobody had a tablet, but nowadays consumers are checking everything on their tablets and iPhones so touchpoints in store have to be different. They are browsing products in store and then going home to take a deeper look, to compare prices, and to choose how and where to spend their money and how to pick it up. Understanding these behaviours is key. Especially when looking at figures. Research from PwC shows that one in five consumers who use multiple channels spend at least 25% more at their favourite retailers. 

From a technology point of view, the pureplays have the advantage of being very advanced and the consumers they are addressing are the consumers of the future. But traditional retailers will catch up. The reality is that now, there needs to be much more of a synergy between bricks and mortar and ecommerce.

It sounds simple but retailers are getting it unbelievably wrong. They aren’t giving customers what they want and so consumers are moving on elsewhere. Research shows that 27% of people will leave a site without purchasing if they can’t find the product they are looking for. This is a shame given all the effort most retailers will have gone to putting together an ecommerce site.

Search is an extremely important part of this equation both in terms of achieving a good conversion rate and also understanding consumer behaviour through what they are searching for. Of course, this data is coming from the online channels, but these customer insights can be used in the offline world to cross sell and up sell. From a business point of view, retailers need to see this as going into a larger basket and not play their bricks and mortar stores off against their online stores.

It’s hard to say where we will be in five years’ time – it’s a guessing game. My belief is that consumer behaviour will completely change. However, in 10 or 15 years’ time, I believe that people will go back to their roots, back to this idea of going into a shop and having a shop experience and communicating with people.

Retailers have to be ready for new technologies and they have to give the people access to buy and communicate via these new technologies. But as importantly they are building consumer trust which is key to the success of (e)commerce. At the end of the day, it’s about the brand philosophy. People need to be able to identify with the brand to make them feel comfortable.
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