Customers want their shopping to fit around their lifestyle. They do what they want when they want and on their terms. There are two options for brands facing the demands of today’s hyper-connected consumer: adapt or perish.
Many shoppers operate in an online environment and want to purchase at their convenience, something the 24/7/365 nature of ecommerce makes possible. It’s a brand’s virtual shopfront and, in an omnichannel world, should mirror the physical store (or printed catalogues) in terms as many ways as possible. In virtual terms, brands can sell anywhere and everywhere. That means big business. Global e-tail sales are set to peak at around $653 billion in 2018 Meanwhile, B2B ecommerce is set to reach a colossal $6.6 trillion by 2020. This prediction may appear inflated, but in fact, B2B orders are considerably greater on average than B2C; they can range from £4,000 to upwards of £250,000.
As ecommerce eats into offline, brands will need to roll out an unparalleled level of customer experience online. In the UK, online sales of non-food products were 11.6% of the total market in 2012; in 2017 they reached 24.1%. This suggests it’s going to be survival of the fittest, with no respite for bricks and mortar stores. Providing an online offering that can compete with the ecommerce pros should be top on the agenda of every business.
The growth of big players in ecommerce is unstoppable. A $10,000 investment in Amazon twenty years ago would today be worth $4.8 million. From online bookstore to the destination of choice of ecommerce, Amazon has become the first port of call for shoppers and merchants alike. The brand is customer-obsessed in nature: one-click checkout; express shipping and free delivery; algorithmic product recommendations; real-time order notifications and tracking – ideal ingredients for an exceptional buying journey. It may well eclipse any in-store experience, too. To acquire customers, they and breathe omnichannel. Amazon has already rolled out pick-up locations, moved into groceries with it’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market, lets customers shop using a mobile app in-store or remotely.