The State Of eCommerce, And Why It’s Time To Stop Thinking In ‘Channels’ - Really
For quite some time now our industry has grappled a term to describe how people really shop. Omni-channel, channel-less, post-channel – whichever you prefer, the principle remains the same: consumers don’t think about channels, they just shop wherever and however they like.
Despite this, however, our research shows us that retailers still think very much in a world of channels. Particularly in our most recent eCommerce Benchmark. The longer they’ve been successful, the harder it is to shake this process. We cannot stress enough how dangerous this model is going forward. While the “retail apocalypse” may not have occurred, a thinning out of the existing herd – to make way for the more adaptable – is in full swing. The time is at hand to stop thinking of retail, especially at the internal organizational level, by channels.
There’s So Much More To Value Than Price
The “race to the bottom” on pricing wars appears to be at (or perhaps even slightly past) it’s low point. This is not because our industry recognized its danger, but rather we played the strategy out to its break point: prices simply cannot go any lower. Suddenly facing this reality, many retailers are left wondering “now what do we do?” And with the threat of Amazon ever looming, the answer is what it always should have been: improve the customer experience.
As the world flattens and products become increasingly ubiquitous, it is more difficult than ever to differentiate based on product. And with prices
at an all time low, that option has exhausted itself, as well. The third way to differentiate – service – however, is prime for the picking. Customer
expectations about great shopping experiences are at an all-time high, but their experiences – even online – still feel a lot like they did 20
years ago. Rethink the way your company presents itself to the world, in every way but price, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Beware The Personalization Hype, But Look For Real Opportunities In The Near-Future
Hype surrounding the capability of personalization tools far outstrips real-world feasibility right now, but that doesn’t mean real opportunity isn’t lurking just around the corner. Winners tell us that the ability to create more personalized experiences online is the number one way they’ll stay winning going forward, but they do not praise false gods: this is about personalizing the experience – their interest in personalizing products online is much more tempered.
While it may seem counterintuitive to warn against a technology whose analytics capabilities offer so much potential to retailers all over the world, it is important to remember that such advanced solutions can only be leveraged once an organization has ensured its data is reliable, its KPIs are accurate, and its house in in full order. Far more so than most retailers have today. Sexy technology on top of an infrastructural mess will not yield “magic.”
Rethink The Role Your eCommerce Platform Could Play
For as long as we’ve been conducting eCommerce research we’ve noted that many retailers are sitting in wait for “one platform to rule them all”. While 2017 saw a marked increase in belief that such a technology would soon be in existence, 2018 reveals that Retail Winners are betting big that they can now pull this off. Nearly 3 out of 4 want to leverage their eCommerce platform in interesting new ways across the enterprise far more than any of their peers.
Retailers would be wise to follow their lead.