As e-commerce continues to grow, retailer interest in multichannel has increased. Much hype and confusion exists around what it takes to become a successful multichannel retailer.
A slowing growth rate does not detract from the fact that e-commerce is an increasingly important part of the retail business. Retailers need to realize that, while the rate of e-commerce growth is slowing, the expectations of customers about the way they shop across the retailer’s brands have dramatically changed precisely because of their exposure to e-commerce shopping. It is likely this will continue to be the case and that customer expectations will change further with the onset of mobile commerce (m-commerce). Because of this, retailers need to rethink their approaches to multichannel retailing.
Customers are turning the current retail model on its head by redefining and customizing the way in which they engage with a retailer’s brand. The online customer, in particular, has proved to be the catalyst for introducing radicalization into the overall shopping experience (that is, across a retailer’s channels and, in so doing, has caused some leading retailers to rethink the customer shopping experience across their channels). By “radicalization,” we are referring to the way in which online shopping has changed consumer attitudes and behavior toward the shopping experience. There are two very important consequences of this:
- Shoppers have taken greater and increasing control of the shopping experience. When making purchasing and buying decisions, online consumers have faster access to a broader set of data and information through extended touchpoints with the retailer’s brand.
- They have also readily embraced social networks and virtual communities, which are contributing to a more radical way of shopping.
Technology has enabled new types of communities, as well as new ways for communities to collaborate, exchange information on their shopping experiences through blogs and reviews, compare retailer offers and, in some instances, take matters into their own hands through anonymous and radical collective action.
All this has fueled a shift in the mind-set of shoppers who have taken much greater and increasing control of the shopping process because they expect the retailer to deliver to their wants and needs in a flexible and personalized way. The customer will, therefore, intuitively interact with touchpoints at any stage in the shopping process, regardless of device, location or time.