Tag Archives: product information

Amazon: Prime-Time For The Grocery Industry

The grocery industry is the most pedestrian of retail endeavors – customers drive to stores, pick and pack their shopping, pay and then drive home. Many have tried to e-commercialize the grocery industry, but the business model never really seemed to work. The consumers desire to touch and feel grocery products before purchasing has been a barrier to widespread adoption of online grocery.

The food industry has traditionally been based around trust and price, not technology – and Whole Foods is known for providing a high level of trust and product transparency to its consumers through detailed product information. After a short dip into e-commerce, Whole Foods has refocused on brick-and-mortar retail growing 35 fold over the last 15 years (Fortune 2017)

And now, with the acquisition of Whole Foods Amazon sends a clear message to grocers that it is ready to play and, at least partly e-commercialize the grocery game. They’ve already dipped their toes in food and grocery in the past through Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry, but this gives them more robust access to high-quality food and more power to delivery grocery products more immediately to customers. It is also a bold statement that Amazon is serious about brick-and-mortar and at the same time this step finally fully validates cross-channel commerce as the future of grocery.

As the lines between online and in store have blurred, Amazon has realized that location will be a key driver for commerce success. Having access to Whole Foods’ 431 existing stores, gives them valuable distribution centers to bring fresh, localized products directly to customers. Amazon was also likely motivated to reach Whole Foods’ millennial audience and develop loyalty with the younger, more quality-conscious consumer.

This generation is more particular about where they buy their food and the ingredients in it, so Amazon will be able to earn the trust of these buyers through Whole Foods’ reputation and its strong identity as a trustworthy source for organic, GMO-free, high-quality food – that consumer trust will now be transferred to Amazon.  

Consumers need to be met wherever they are, whether in store or on their smartphones, but the importance here is an integrated approach. No one channel is the clear answer, but companies that stay competitive will need to more tightly integrate all of their approaches, both physical and digital.

Consumers are the key winners here, as the bar for success in the grocery industry is going to be much higher in the future. Competitive pricing, upgraded digital experiences, and more innovation will directly benefit customers.

Companies that aren’t paying attention to larger trends will lose as consumers demand for more product content; the value of an omni-channel approach to grocery; and the importance of consistent experiences across every channel.

To summarize, consumers aren’t tolerant of brands that look different online than in-store, and this is more important in the grocery market, as missing or misleading product information has the potential for serious harm.

The Struggle to Overcome Cross-Channel Commerce Challenges is Real

1WorldSync Omni-Channel Data Study: Charting Course for Global Commerce

A new data study commissioned by 1WorldSync highlighted some of the key challenges suppliers and retailers face when trying to achieve true cross-commerce capabilities.  The study surveyed 400 merchants and suppliers from Europe and the U.S. with more than $500 million in annual revenue, and uncovered key insights into the struggles that are faced in today’s omni-channel world.

As the global $1.9 trillion e-commerce landscape continues to expand, companies are facing difficulties successfully managing cross-channel commerce across continents, supply chains, and software systems, and are losing revenue as a result. Some even doubt the value of investing in these capabilities. In a key finding nearly half of global merchants and suppliers report having lost at least a million dollars in revenue to cross-channel commerce challenges.

The study sheds light on the apparent struggles both ends of the supply chain face in a fast paced market places where Artificial Intelligence, and online/mobile commerce emerge as top trends for consumers.

Merchants and Suppliers Face Significant Roadblocks in Navigating Cross-Channel Commerce

Key findings suggest that a majority of merchants and suppliers are not fully prepared to meet the varied demands of modern customers. Channel readiness is a significant struggle throughout the supply chain as e-commerce continues to evolve. Other data highlights include:

  • Future investment plans don’t address current e-commerce weakness: Forty-five percent of merchants and suppliers have lost more than $1 million in revenue due to cross-channel commerce challenges, and more than one in ten (13 percent) have lost more than $3 million.
  • Lack of content solutions hamper success: Half of merchants and suppliers do not use a third-party content provider, which hinders their ability to syndicate product content across channels and platforms.
  • Merchants lag when it comes to cross-channel commerce: Fifty-one percent of merchants cannot support mobile commerce, and 80 percent don’t integrate product information management across web, mobile, applications, and physical stores.

Market Leaders Show the Path Forward

While many merchants and suppliers surveyed struggle with different aspects of the retail experience, there are clear lessons to be learned from market leaders (defined as companies that complete 51 percent or more of sales online). For companies looking to learn from these market leaders and upgrade their e-commerce capabilities, top action items include:

  • Invest now in cross-channel capabilities: Sixty-five percent of market leaders have dedicated more than 30 percent of their commerce budget to digital and mobile commerce expansion in the last year. Today, 73 percent of merchant market leaders can fully execute mobile commerce, nearly 20 percent more than market laggards. Investments here help in the short and long term.
  • Engage with a third-party content provider: Eighty percent of market leaders use a third-party content provider, which is undoubtedly one reason this group reports greater visibility between trading partners.
  • Migrate to the cloud: Ninety-five percent of supplier market leaders use a cloud-based product information system, which simplifies the online sales process and enhances supply chain efficiency.

Blurred Lines & Blended Commerce – The Changing Face of Retail

“The shift in retail to the Internet is a huge change… every retail company is trying to manage the transition. It’s not well defined or understood and there’s no road map” said Simeon Gutman, a retailing analyst for Morgan Stanley (New York Times 2015).

Download a copy of our full data study here.

Everyday is Black Friday with the 1WorldSync Omni-Channel Solutions.

As a brand owner, manufacturer or supplier, you want to get your products onto as many shelves, storefronts and retail sources as possible so that everyday feels like Black Friday!  Retailers are asking suppliers to deliver more content, faster and more often than ever before. The problems suppliers, manufacturers and brand owners face in their quest for speed to consumers and online shelves are numerous.

Tis’ The Season To Be Cross-Channel Ready

1WorldSync has an announcement that will undoubtedly make your holiday season to do’s a lot more doable. Suppliers can gain the first-mover advantage by utilizing the 1WorldSync Omni-channel solutions to enable global content distribution and syndication for all your product information, across all channels. Further, 1WorldSync solutions help our customers discover and publish products and more importantly product information in a standardized, easily accessible digital format ensuring accurate information…whether you are shopping online, in store, or eating lunch at your favorite cafe.  

We’ve now made it easier for existing 1WorldSync Data Pool customers to publish their product content and take advantage of our Omni-Channel solutions. 1WorldSync customers can publish and make updates to their 1WorldSync data pool product information and enrich their product information for cross-channel commerce, enabling global content distribution and syndication for all your product information.. Foodservice customers can grow sales to discerning consumers by offering total product information transparency on nutritionals, allergens and more, on all channels.

1WorldSync Capabilities Deliver Rich and Trusted Product Anywhere and Everywhere

The 1WorldSync Omni-channel solutions make it possible to share content anywhere, anytime in any format with anyone such as Google, Walmart, Amazon and beyond.

How to Offer Customers Choice, Convenience and Control

The 1WorldSync Fall Release makes it easier than ever to help organize for omni-channel commerce, making your product content discoverable and highly shoppable during a holiday shopping season expected to set online shopping records (digital sales are expected to hit $94.71 billion this Christmas period, according to research firm eMarketer).  This is a great opportunity for our current customers to gain a major competitive advantage.

How do we find out more?

Register now for our upcoming webcast on Wednesday, November 2nd at 1 pm ET.

  • Receive a demo of the new capability to publish from Item Management into Catalog1 keeping the product information accurate and complete (seamlessly pull your information).
  • Learn how to organize for Omni-Channel sales growth and make your product digital, discoverable and highly shoppable.
  • Understand our new capabilities and apps that have recently been released.

This Year’s Back to School Checklist Includes Transparency & Traceability

Samantha is allergic to dairy, so please be sure she isn’t served milk! Luke has a nut allergy, so it’s critical that he avoids all foods with peanuts.  Harry is allergic to milk and eggs, so he has to steer clear of foods with either of these ingredients (think cupcakes, cookies and other treats).

Welcome to the lunchroom – the thunderous meeting ground of lunch tables separated by food allergies.  There’s the “No Peanut” table, “No Milk” table, “No Gluten” table and for some schools, even a “No GMO” table.  Have we become a society of extremely picky eaters?  Well, pickiness aside, studies show that food allergies affect up to 2 1/2 million children. Six foods account for 90 percent of all allergic reactions to foods in children: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and soy. Aside from peanut and tree nut allergy (which are considered life-long), most children will outgrow their food allergies.  But until then, parents and students remain vigilant and cautious in managing those allergies to stay healthy (and alive).

That level of vigilance has translated to greater national awareness and standard school guidelines via the CDC, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), USDA and US Department of Education.  So with parents and students requiring much more transparency and traceability, does your organization have a trusted way to provide them with nutritional information in a fast and easily accessible format? Can your organization easily share that info with healthcare professionals, parents, and government agencies?  If not, don’t you get schooled!  Instead, consider the following SIX to do’s:

  1. Establish repeatable global processes and content for product information compliance and transparency
  2. Manage your product information to address Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Health, Safety & Environment policies
  3. Address compliance with specific global transparency initiatives, such as GMA SmartLabel or the EU 1169 Food Regulation.
  4. Capture, store, manage and distribute product data, information and content in accordance with global regulations – e.g. Hazmat, Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSAI), Reach/GHS
  5. Leverage global consulting, content validation and verification services for chemical ingredients and harmful substances.
  6. Establish repeatable processes for material safety data sheets (SDS) and digital as well as physical handling and distribution of compliance documentation.

Fortunately, this is exactly where 1WorldSync can help.  Our proven solutions can help protect and grow your sales to discerning consumers, by offering total product information transparency on all channels.  Even schools now have the ability to provide full nutritional transparency to the right people, at the right time, in the right format. 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice is a boundless marketplace that allows you to discover and publish products, and more importantly product information, in a standardized, easily accessible, digital format…and ensuring accurate nutritional information such as ingredients, allergens, and serving size.

Click here to learn more about how 1WorldSync Showcase for Foodservice.

Back to School Blues: The Chore of the Daily Lunch

The sunscreen bottles are nearly empty.  The luggage is stored in the garage (and if you’re lucky, the in-laws safely on their way back home).  We’ve binged watched every show in our queue and eaten the last of the season’s crop of good peaches.  Summer is this close to being in the rear view mirror.

Yes, and right around this time of year, as we vacuum out the beach sand, crushed potato chips and summer-old food wrappers from the inside of our cars, we are officially in ‘back to school’ mode.  For some it’s cause for cheering, (the kids go back to school after all), for others it’s a reminder of the long list of upcoming to-dos and calendar commitments (think soccer practice, school plays and scout meetings).  And aside from the obvious back to school prep work of clothes, books and school supplies, there’s the added chore of the daily lunch routine.

Are you going to stock up on lunch box supplies or will your kids buy lunch? Chances are that you’ll be one of approximate 60% of parents who opt for their school’s lunch program.  After all, parents are busy, kids are picky.  But fortunately, school lunches have become tastier and healthier.  In fact, a good deal healthier.    Most school districts now offer healthier food and beverages in vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria lines. Fruits, vegetables, water, and hundreds of nutritious snack products now fill these venues instead of the candy, sodas, and other unhealthy items that were commonplace less than a decade ago, mostly because of consumer demand and updated regulations.

Of course, that same demand is driving a level of clarity and transparency into what their kids are eating.  They ask questions and read labels.  So what exactly are parents looking for?

  1. Hidden Trans Fats

Over the next couple of years, food companies must phase out partially hydrogenated oils – a major source of artery-clogging trans fats – under a recent directive from the Food and Drug Administration. Until then, consumers are checking food labels for the word “hydrogenated.” If an ingredient list includes this kind of oil, but the trans fat amount reads zero, watch out.

  1. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Over 64 countries now require GMO labeling. Though studies have not determined that GMOs are harmful to eat, many consumers are concerned: limited research into their safety, a rise in “superweeds” that resist the herbicides used on GMOs, and, consequently, more overall pesticide use.  So consumers are voraciously reading labels and looking for ‘USDA-certified organic’ or the “Non-GMO Project Verified” seal on the label.

  1. Wood pulp

That is not a typo.  Wood pulp is often lumped under the heading of ‘added fiber.’   So again, consumers are combing food labels for “cellulose” and “cellulose powder”.

  1. Allergens

Studies show that 16%–18% of children with food allergies have had a reaction from accidentally eating food allergens while at school. More than 170 foods are known to cause IgE mediated food allergies. In the US alone, eight of these foods or food groups account for 90% of serious allergic reactions: milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Fortunately, federal law requires food labels to clearly identify the food allergen source of all foods and ingredients.

School organizations such as North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) are beginning to leverage the increased amount of available product information as well as detailed nutrition labels to mitigate the risk of allergic reactions among students. By utilizing the 1WorldSync Digital Catalog of product information, updated straight from the source, NCDPI is able to comply with USDA federal regulation for meal pattern requirements and easily distribute it this information to parents, students, and even healthcare professionals upon request.

Whether or not students choose to pack or bring their lunch this year, one thing is for certain: their decision will depend on the amount of available product information. It is clear that consumer demand for transparency far exceeds just the Consumer Packaged Goods and Grocery industries, but also extends to any organization that distributes and sells their products to schools.

Click here to learn more about how 1WorldSync solutions can help the Foodservice industry provide product information transparency.

The Dream of a Product Shelf. How to Get Your Products Online and Selling.

Every business person starts their journey with an idea.  An idea they hope will be life-changing.  For many, these entrepreneurial dreams hark back to summer lemonade stands, paper routes or garage made inventions.

Dessert queen, Debbie Fields[1] famously took to the streets, passing out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to any passerby.  (Her Mrs. Field’s Cookie products are now sold in her namesake retail stores, grocery chains and an online bakery.) ScrubDaddy[2] (an ergonomically designed kitchen sponge) plied its wares on TVs Sharked Tank.  (Since the pitch, they’ve moved 10 million units for total sales of more than $50 million.)  Let’s not forget Joy Mangano, the entrepreneur known for inventions such as the self-wringing Miracle Mop.  Her first appearance on QVC helped the Miracle Mop sell out—more than 18,000 mops in less than a half an hour.

Of course, not every product has the benefit of a TV launch.  Far faster and far easier, it’s about selling your products online.  And yes, selling your product (s) on your own company online store is great and has its own benefits.  But far better is getting placement on one or more of the larger online retailers.  So how will you get your company ready for the selling with the big guys (think Amazon, Google, Walmart, etc.) so that you’re discoverable and comparable across all digital properties?

Correct Product Content

The first step is providing robust and accurate product data for your customers.  Every product online has a large amount of data associated with it, but it can be difficult for mobile applications or web pages to distinguish between two comparable products if the product data is inaccurate or incomplete.

Inaccurate or incomplete product data is extremely problematic for your customers.  Today’s consumers demand rich product information.

Is there enough detail?  Are there photos?  Is there enough detail for them to make a decision?  If not, the likely result is a lost customer and sale.

Consistent Product Content

Ensuring that the product displayed online is the exact same product sent from the fulfillment center can be a challenge.  It’s important to consider solutions that will ensure that product and package variations are managed properly in the fulfillment process so that consumer expectations are met.

Streamline Product Content Management

As consumers, we know the types of content we expect on retail websites and apps. But as a product supplier you know creating, compiling, managing, hosting, updating and publishing this content across all shopper touch points is complex and time-consuming.

For this reason, many retailers and manufacturers are working with 1WorldSync to streamline product information and content management. 1WorldSync’s Omni-channel solutions ensure product information is complete, accurate and consistent. Further, these solutions improve the consumer experience by delivering high-quality and complete data about the product in stores fortifying consumer loyalty and growing sales.

Learn how Dot Foods Increased Sales Using 1WorldSync: View the Case Study

References:

[1] http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2012/11/20/how-to-build-a-multimillion-dollar-company-the-story-of-mrs-fields-cookies/2/#4df04bfc78d3

[2] http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/082415/10-most-successful-products-shark-tank.asp

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Product Information

Nothing symbolizes summer in America more than the fourth of July. Barbecues, fireworks and flags waving in the breeze are everywhere you turn. The US of A celebrates her 240th birthday this year and honestly America, you don’t look a day over 220! Seriously, have you had work done?? America the Beautiful is taking health and wellness more seriously than ever before. From what we eat, use to care for our homes and bodies and almost any other consumer product you can think of, access to product information and transparency rules the decision-making process. Let’s discuss how the tradition of Independence Day has transformed over the past generation and what the possibilities are for the future, shall we?!

Barbecues! This tradition is strong and there is no way anyone will ever pull dad away from his grill or pry the tongs out of his hands. What has changed is what gets put on that grill. You may find that nitrate-filled hot dogs and pre-cut hamburger patties are a thing of the past. As people become more concerned with things like preservatives, carcinogens, and animal cruelty, you’re more likely to be served organic chicken sausage, grass-fed beef burgers and of course a vegetarian option like a black bean burger or deviled eggs (cage-free of course!). Beyond just ingredients, food safety and traceability continue to be of high importance and Uncle Sam will only continue to demand more product information from the foodservice industry.

Whether it’s beaches, parks or just your backyard, summer gatherings all (hopefully) have one thing in common – good ol’ Mr. Sun. We all want to have fun in the sun, but without the sting of a sunburn later on. What used to be a simple decision between SPF 15 or 30 has now become an endless list of choices: spray or lotion, safe for children, face or body, waterproof or water resistant, and on and on and ON! I just don’t want to feel sticky and disgusting all day, kthanksbye! But we live and we learn; from premature wrinkles to melanoma, the sun is not to messed with and the public has made it very clear to brand owners that they demand full transparency for sun protection products – and boy did they deliver, yeesh!

No fourth of July celebration would be complete without the iconic firework display. Back in my day, we would set these babies off right in our backyard. How times have changed. This pastime is now, for the most part, completely illegal, but honestly, what were we thinking? “Hey I have a great idea, how about after we drink all day in the sun (sans protection!), we set off some explosives!?” Super smart #eyeroll. Now we all congregate in a wide open space where we can SAFELY view the fireworks from afar without the worry of them backfiring or exploding in our faces. We have also come to know that these loud noises are not so fun for our furry friends, so we keep them out of residential neighborhoods as well. If you can’t make it out to your community fireworks but still want the essence of the holiday, stick to harmless sparklers :)

1WorldSync understands that consumer demands drive business. The more information they have, the more information they want, so companies are only going to have to provide more information in as many ways as possible in the shortest amount of time. 1WorldSync solutions for transparency and compliance, such as the SmartLabel solution,  can help your business to meet these demands and regulations, now and in the future! America seems to be moving in a positive direction to keep ourselves and our families safe and informed, but the only constant in life is change, so in another 20 years we’ll look back on a whole host of new advancements and trends. So, whatever your plans are for July 4th weekend, remember you have the freedom to choose products that meet your standards!

How to make a ridiculous, drool-worthy and perfectly dangerous online shopping experience

“I shop all the time – on my commute, at work, at home, during the weekend…..The ability to find exactly what I want at the moment I’m thinking about it can be dangerous.” Lisa Green, head of fashion & luxury brands at Google, NYC[1]

Consumers today have more places and ways to shop….and have increasingly shorter attention spans. So if you have an ecommerce business, and you want online shoppers to click BUY NOW , then you need to be able to grab their attention, keep their attention and convert the sale. Yes, I’m sure you already know this…but how?

Product Content is King.

Don’t underestimate the power of high quality images – with the ability to zoom in and see multiple angles and views.  Shoppers find images incredibly reassuring and helpful in identifying that this is in fact the actual product they will purchase.  Don’t assume the more commonly recognized or generic products (batteries, diapers, etc.) might not need that level of visual appeal.   Countless studies and surveys have made it abundantly clear that visuals are the most influential factor affecting purchase decisions (*92.6% of shoppers say visuals seal the deal[2]).

“The most important piece of information a manufacturer can provide to help sell their products is an image. Most sales people tell us this significantly increases their odds of closing a sale. In fact, the trend seems to be that they won’t even suggest an item without one.”

Chief Commercial Officer, Major Food Distributor

What did other customers say?

90% of consumers read online reviews and 88% of them trust the online reviews as much as personal recommendations. In other words, more people read reviews as part of their pre-purchase research before purchasing a product or service.  In fact, customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than a marketing piece from an organization and will specifically seek out websites with reviews[3].  By making ratings and reviews easily accessible across every touchpoint, brands can ensure a positive customer experience.  And there’s more!  Enabling customer reviews on your ecommerce site can have a positive effect on your company’s organic results. Each product review increases the amount of authentic and robust content offered… “meaning you’ll be seen as having higher authority, more relevance, and, as such, a higher chance of getting those pages ranked.” Forbes.

Trusted Product Information

Your shopper wants to know what they’re buying:  How big? What color?  Place of origin? Technical requirements? Add-ons Plug-ins.  Images, video clips, specifications, customer reviews and more are all part of the giant need of trusted and accurate product information.  The quality and completeness of product presentation in online retail has a quantifiable and direct impact on product sales.   On-line retailers that offer compelling, engaging, and complete content to shoppers will be rewarded by repeat purchases, lower levels of returns and long-term loyalty.

What’s a Retailer to Do?

A successful omni-channel shopping experience is dependent upon the depth and accuracy of trusted product content.   Working with 1WorldSync, etailers and retailers alike help to provide better quality product images and information, while reducing the cost of data acquisition. Your users will experience fewer errors when searching for products and you will have more time to concentrate on growing your business.

[1] Vogue, March 2016

[2] Invodo Marketers Summary, 2015

[3] Econsultancy, 2015

2016 Readers’ Choice: Mobility

Originally posted in Readers Choice of CGT – A Short List of the Best Technology & Services Providers to the Industry

According to Peter Drucker, “Business has only two functions — marketing and innovation.” But with the pace of innovation and technology quickening we might want to think on using a new portmanteau; TECHNOVATION.

Technovation suggests that marketers must recognize the accelerating pace of evolving technology, now inextricably linked to adapting consumers, while adjusting our comprehension and organizational structures to embrace not just the obvious, e.g., big data and analytics, but also how consumers, themselves, view their online and offline lives as part of a seamless whole. Marketers must understand that technovation is not only about understanding what consumers are doing with technology, but also what technology is doing to them.

Mary Meeker of KPCB notes that since 2008, the time an adult spends on digital media has gone from 2.7 to 5.6 hours per day, and that mobile has increased from 12 percent of that time spent to 51 percent. In June 2015, Pew Research noted that a fifth of Americans are ‘almost constantly’ online, with 36 percent of 18 to 29 year olds reporting they are ‘almost constantly’ online. Nielsen recently reported, in the desirable 18 to 34 year old demographic, that 8.5 million people per minute now use smartphones and other TV connected devices, surpassing 8.1 million per minute that use traditional TV screens.
In his book “Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy” Kit Yarrow opines, “our use of technology has changed our psychology” including for innovation optimism, consumer empowerment, faster thinking, symbol power, and new ways of connecting.

The Ericson Institute, in a just released study representing 1.1 billion people across 24 countries found that constantly having a screen in the palm of your hand is not always a practical solution, however. Prognosticators now believe this technology will be a thing of the past, perhaps in fewer than five years.

What might make this forecast a reality? The Internet-of-Things has already taken hold, and Virtual Reality now has a purchase on popular imagination. Watch for a plethora of new form factors, from flexible screens, to wearables, to implantables. The computing power driving this technology is readily available and rapidly evolving. IBM has Watson, and Google claims its “D-Wave Quantum Computer” will be 100 million times faster than any of today’s machines. If true, D-Wave could theoretically solve a mathematical problem within seconds that would take today’s digital computer 10,000 years to calculate.

This kind of computing power, linked to Artificial Intelligence, coupled with new user form factors, will drive innovation for the next era of digital communication making possible – quite literally – commerce-at-the-speed-of-thought.

A brave new world is upon us, taking shape around us and with all of us as participants and innovators in our own right.
Hail the consumer!

What Makes a Trend… a Trend?

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?

  1. 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.”
  1. 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.
  1. 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.