Rubik’s Cube. Leg Warmers. Juicers. Boom Boxes. Atari, Tivo, Game Boys. Chances are good that you bought in to one of the many product trends from the last couple of decades. After all, whether its fashion, toys, gaming or foods (think “artisanal” cheese), who can resist jumping on a trendy bandwagon? Admittedly, some trends are best left to the pop culture history books, but today – in 2016 – we’re seeing a definite trend towards trends becoming more than trends (did you get that?).
Consider eCommerce. It was only 15 years or so ago that online sales were left to Amazon or eBay. For others in retail, online shopping was a nice add-on. The theory was that the consumer wouldn’t abandon the brick and mortars. Consumers wanted to see, touch and hold their purchases. So what was considered a trend in the year 2000 (15 ½ million households shopped online in September 2000), has evolved into a full-fledged way of life (spending a total of $4.2 billion online – an average of $272 per person). Today, consumers are spending an average of $2,466 per person on online purchases. Even traditional grocery items are added to the list, with online grocery growing at nearly twice the rate of any other industry.
Convenience, value and the proliferation of mobile devices have been key drivers in changing consumer shopping behaviors. So what’s a growing retailer to do? How can retailers capitalize on current eCommerce buying trends, while building for the future?
- Invest in digital technologies that enhance the Omni-Channel experience whether in-store, online or anytime. For example, consider tools that enable online chats and video merchandising to help describe and demonstrate how an item looks or works. Curated content, suggested buys & upsell, on-line shelves and eCarts are varied components of an engaging on-line shopping experience. Walmart recently announced making a move to marry the retailer’s online and mobile assets with its 11,500 stores worldwide.. According to Fortune Magazine, “Walmart said it was merging to the two divisions to create a new unit called ‘Walmart Technology.’ Walmart pointed to the recent launch of its Walmart Pay mobile payment service as an example of the kind of collaboration between the teams that it hopes the merger will spur.”
- Offer a convenient shopping experience that responds to the consumer path to purchase. One-stop-shopping convenience is no longer about selling everything from a single supercenter or website. It’s more profitably targeted at giving a seamless Omni-Channel experience to shoppers who are budgeting for both time and money. Consider retailers that are offering services that combine their in-store and digital capabilities, for example ‘click-to-curb’ for groceries, ‘site to store’ at mass retailers or virtual dressing rooms for apparel.
- Content, content, content…did we mention Content?
We encourage retailers to focus on enhanced content and content distribution strategies to provide differentiated levels of product information for customers and consumers. As research indicates, rich content, more content and trusted content will make a consumer click BUY NOW and continue as a repeat customer online and in-store. Conversely, if a consumer cannot see a picture of the product they want to buy…they go elsewhere, and likely never return.
What sets a seller of goods apart from competition is their ability to give the buyer what they want, how they want, where they want it, when they want it. Omni-Channel is not a trend – it is a full-fledged way of commerce and consumerism: yesterday, today and tomorrow.