Econsultancy's Ben Davis recently wrote a blog post entitled "Six omnichannel trends in e-commerce" (April 15).
Davis says retail sales totaled over $15 trillion in 2013, of which 1.2 trillion (more than 8%) was spent online. "But how sophisticated is e-commerce today?" he asks "What is achievable and will the holy grail of 'omnichannel' ever be realized?"
Davis implies e-commerce needs to catch up to other channels, but it's the other way around.
What's interesting about Davis' question is that it implies e-commerce needs to evolve and meet consumers' needs in other channels (i.e. in-store or via mobile devices). But it's really the latter channels that must evolve to deliver what e-commerce already does (real-time product and inventory information, personalization, convenience, etc.)
Nevertheless, here's a summary of his 6 trends:
- 'Now' and 'Next' E-Commerce Platforms: Cutting-edge e-commerce sites are identifying reasons for cart abandonment and pursuing remarketing opportunities -- using mobile-optimized content, for example.
- 'Now' and 'Next' Orders: In-store pickup of online orders is becoming standard. The next level is being able to use call center, website and in-store to make, adjust, cancel or return items.
- 'Now' and 'Next' In-Store: Endless aisle and mobile assisted sales are also going mainstream. Virtual POS (e.g. like how Apple allows payment in-store using Apple ID account) is omnichannel from a pricing standpoint.
- 'Now' and 'Next' Single Customer View: Currently, e-commerce sites assign an "anonymous" cookie to track previous behavior. The next trend will be narrowing customers based on not just behavior, but attitude and emotion as well. (Think: likes, comments, etc.)
In the future, will customers be able to view inventory from a single list, and select which delivery point they want?
- 'Now' and 'Next' Inventory Visibility: Today, customers want to see what's in-store and what's in a warehouse? In the future, inventory will be consolidated: Customers will see what's available according to one list -- deliverable to the end point of their choosing.
- 'Now' and 'Next' Personalization: Amazon does a great job of predicting what you'd likely buy based on previous behavior. The next step is making those predictions outside of just the website. Some opt-in barriers must be overcome (to track people's physical location or to push promotions to their phones), but the potential is there.