Every 50 years or so, retailing undergoes disruption. Like most disruptions, digital retail technology got off to a shaky start. A bevy of Internet-based retailers like Amazon.com, Pets.com, and pretty much everythingelse.com embraced what they called the online store or electronic commerce. Today, however, that economic reality is well established.
Brick and mortar is still the commerce king, accounting for more than 90% of total retail sales. But it’s the e-commerce/online stores that is winning the growth prize, expanding 8-12% in Q1 2017 vs. 2.8% for brick and mortar. The adoption of the latest mobile technologies is playing a big role in this growth of e-commerce. The need for ease to shop on the go led to the growth of mobile shopping.
Online Stores: An Emerging Retail Reality
The latest e-commerce growth forecast from eMarketer is that e-commerce sales will increase 23.2% in 2017-2018. It will account for one-tenth of the total retail sales and accounts to $22.73 trillion. This projection shows the growth in online store buyers over years.
Moreover, digital retailing is now highly profitable. For example, Amazon’s five-year average return on investment is 17%, whereas traditional discount and department stores average at 6.5%.
As modern shoppers gain access to new technologies and shift the way they spend money, retailers and online stores both have to change their strategies and adapt. The result is a merger of digital and offline shopping. It delivers an omnichannel experience and, therefore, delivers convenience to customers.
Omnichannel Strategy: A Must Have
Successful programs are bridging the gap between offline and online choices.
Cross-Channel Integration: Retailers are overhauling their supply chains, website, store operations, marketing, merchandising and more to meet customer expectations and provide a seamless experience across every touch point. Cross-channel integration (e.g. Buy online pick-up in‑store) provides a holistic approach that serves customers better.
E‑commerce Platform: Retailers increasingly rely on digital channels to hit growth targets, but outdated platforms no longer serve the diverse needs. It is important to partner with platforms that help you evaluate options and implement the right tools that suit your business needs.
Mobile Strategy: Mobile capabilities can also multiply overhead without measurable benefits. Selecting the right platforms and designing mobile websites and apps with an eye towards increasing ROI is very important.
Digital Marketing: Retailers need to better understand their customers and ensure relevant messaging across all channels to drive traffic and enhance customer engagement. Expansive analytics and retail experience can help retailers optimize their digital marketing, loyalty and CRM investments to yield the best returns.
Last Mile Delivery: Online shoppers are more and more demanding when it comes to delivery experiences. This is the reason why you should prioritize and should partner with platforms which will allow you to provide an ultimate shopping experience by providing ultimate last mile delivery options.
Explore platforms that provide logistics solutions that can integrate with your online storefront.
What it Takes to Transition Your Store Online
Taking your store from offline to online isn’t necessarily the easiest job, but by no means it is impossible. A little planning and research on your part and a little guidance will help make the transition from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce online store as simple as possible.
Plan: As with any other business strategy, you will need to take some time and plan out your efforts- what tools you will need, the resources it will require, and the overall investment it will take to bring your brick-and-mortar business to an online environment.
A Platform: A part of the planning process includes selecting an e-commerce platform to launch your digital store. Make a list of desired features and price points while distinguishing between your must-haves and something that is scalable for future growth.
Shipping and Fulfillment: Opening an online store means getting a product to your customer is no longer as easy as bagging it and handing it across the checkout counter. To simplify the process, try to select a shipping provider that can integrate directly into your e-commerce platform.
Resources: Last but not the least, now that you’ve opened a new sales channel, someone needs to manage it. As a business owner, that someone is often you; Make sure you select a solid platform that is easy to manage and needs little or no technical knowledge. So you or anyone of your employee can easily manage day-to-day operations.
The way that retailers and online companies are now operating is vastly different than what consumers experienced a decade ago. Success in the future will depend increasingly on seamless experience between physical locations and online stores. Companies already are making excellent strides in this regard, but shoppers will continue to shape the direction over time. Adaptability is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it’s a necessity to survive.
If you are an entrepreneur or an existing store owner who needs assistance to build your own app, online store or marketplace, just send us a quick inquiry and our experts will be more than happy to help you.