E Commerce Posts

Are Online or In-Store Customer Journey's More Successful?

You may be tired of the debate over brick-and-mortar vs. online retail—and rightfully so. As new technologies continue to change the way people shop, many have anticipated the death of brick-and-mortar stores at the hands of e-commerce. But as our shopping habits change over time, wireless retail remains somewhat of an outlier: the in-store experience has stayed crucial to the industry, as customer education is essential to completing a sale. At the same time, the potential for selling plans and products online has changed retailers' tactics and marketing efforts. It's no wonder why so many wireless retailers are wondering which sales channels to focus their efforts on.

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Can We Stop Talking About the Retail Apocalypse Yet?

Has your local mall been boarded up yet? Not a store left open, tumbleweeds blowing across the empty, cracked parking lot? Isn’t Amazon forcing all the malls to close down?

Oh... you were just there yesterday and struggled to find a parking spot? We had a feeling that might be the case. See, despite all the talk, the great retail apocalypse just isn’t the doomsday some analysts expected.

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How Wireless Retailers Can Personalize the Online Buyer Journey

Think about the different steps you take before making a purchase. Maybe you browse on a smartphone, then look at product specs from your PC, then finally make it into the store to purchase. Or perhaps you first see an item on social media, and click-through to a product page to find out more before buying an item online. There are endless combinations of channels a consumer might use on their buyer journey—making it increasingly harder for retailers to come up with “one-size-fits-all” marketing techniques.

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How to Adapt to an E-Commerce World

Ten years ago, almost to the day, there was a major disruption in the wireless world; the iconic iPhone was introduced to the masses. Affected companies had to adapt, change, and move quickly to ride the waves from the impact of this new product/idea. We saw success and failure in response.

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A Clash In Expectations & Retail Reality

I was out indulging in some retail therapy and came across a very common disconnect consumers are facing today – a mismatch between expectations and experience.

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Target and Wal-Mart as E-Commerce Destinations vs. Amazon

I had an interesting discussion with my co-workers today about how we shop at big-box department stores like Target and Wal-Mart, versus how we shop online on Amazon.

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Coming Full Circle, Amazon Opens Physical Bookstore in Seattle

Guardian reported today that Amzaon has just opened a bookstore in Seattle's University Village stocked with 6,000 books at the same price as Amazon sells them online.

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Singapore's Postal Service to Build Mall for E-Tailers

TechCrunch reported today that Singpost, Singapore's postal service recently unveiled a concept mall (artist rendering above) that allows online retailers to sell their products in a physical space.

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Retailer Caveats for Social Media 'Buy Buttons'

Anil Kaul, CEO of Absolutedata, warned retailers of a few "traps" related to social media buy buttons today on PaymentsSource.com.

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Why Traditional Retail and E-commerce Are Not (Always) Competing Strategies

In Harvard Business Review's (HBR) article titled “E-Commerce is Not Eating Retail”, Darrell Ridby defends retail stores and outlines why they’re here to stay despite the growth of eCommerce.
The HBR article points out two examples of retail segments that are on either end of the physical stores vs. purchased online spectrum - - “e-commerce sales will increase from 11% of Forrester’s top 30 categories to about 18% by 2030—higher in some (such as music) and lower in others (such as food).”

It really comes down to the types of goods that would determine the success of retailers who mix online and in-store.

It’s interesting to note what types of retailers would fall somewhere in the middle and would benefit from a strong blend of in-store and online strategies. It really comes down to the types of goods that would determine the success of retailers who mix online and in-store. My thoughts on the kinds of goods that would be great for the mix are:

  • Goods that are not commodities. If there are physical differentiators for a product set, then it becomes more important to have a physical store channel for consumers to validate a choice that they might make online.
  • Goods that are actually physical. Music is essentially a virtual ‘product’. The distribution lends itself to a strictly electronic form. Books are another example of this class of virtual product.
  • Fashion is a prime industry for an online and in-store mix. The goods are differentiated physically in terms of cut, material, and colors.
  • Technical physical products are another category that benefit from an online and in-store presence - gear that requires good maneuverability or feels good in the hand.

Perhaps another way to think about it is - what kinds of products carry a higher risk of disappointing the customer if they only ever had exposure to it online?

The article points out that “so many companies that began as pure e-commerce plays have added physical stores, including Warby Parker, Athleta, BaubleBar, and Bonobos.” But there are examples of where the reverse is true as well. Physical stores converting to entirely online shops such as old music stores, for instance. A&B Sound and Sam the Record Man were two massive music stores that have since disappeared from the Canadian retail landscape. That being said, moves to purely online aren’t as common.

Physical stores can offer consumers experiences that are difficult to replicate online.

Physical stores allow customers to make decisions based on important physical differentiators between products - feel, fit, smell, color/texture, and noise. Some might argue that a physical presence allows people to better establish the brand. I think this is true, but I think that the nature of the product you’re selling has more to do with it.
So knowing that the physical retail store isn’t disappearing, I’m not arguing that it can stay the same either. Retailers need to work towards bringing online experience and conveniences in-store.

Here are my top 3 tips for how retailers can remain competitive within the growing trends of E-commerce:
1.) Manage your online content to ensure its accuracy and quality. This includes not only product descriptions, but also the most recent availability and pricing information.
2.) Have a consistent brand experience between online and offline so that people feel the continuity across all your marketing channels.
3.) Seamlessly point back and forth from one channel to another. Get your eCommerce site to drive traffic to your store (and show accurate store location information such as hours of operation and directions.) Leverage the higher data density available online to your customers that are in your store – perhaps using mobile calls to action or using in-store kiosks that show online information.

The future of retail is not deciding between physical or online but finding a way to bring the best of both experiences together.
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Uber to Launch E-Commerce Delivery Program This Fall

Re/code reported last week (Sept. 4) Uber is planning a partnership announcement with "big retailers and fashion brands that could number in the dozens," which would use Uber as an express delivery option for e-commerce customers.

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Multichannel Inventory (Foot Locker case study)

In a recent article published by Retail Touch Points, Foot Locker’s growing success has been attributed to their multichannel strategy that has focused on inventory visibility.

Foot Locker has implemented endless aisle and drop ship concepts to pull together their omnichannel efforts. The article covered a lot of interesting trends that we’ve seen popping up all over the retail landscape.

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6 Reasons Customers Prefer to Shop In-Store Over Online

A new report from BI Intelligence, announced today, "explores the top five in-store technologies that represent the future of retail."

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