The two biggest trends that mark the brave new world of ecommerce in 2015 are omni-channel and always-on shopping. These define the way that customers are interacting with the marketplace today, and they should shape the way that retailers develop their business models.
“Omni-channel is a multi-channel approach to sales that provides the shopper with a seamless purchasing experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a physical store.“
If you’re a retailer looking to compete this year and beyond, take a look at these four lessons in contemporary e-commerce trends:
Omni-channel shopping is here to stay
Contrary to some earlier predictions, the rapid and sustained rise of online shopping has not meant the demise of bricks-and-mortar stores. Rather consumers are now adamantly multichannel in their buying practices – mixing online and in-store deliberations often in the very same purchase. A buyer might compare prices online and, finding that the cheapest option is right down the road, complete the purchase at his local retailer. Another might purchase a product online and, finding it’s been damaged in transit, return it to the local outlet. Retailers that work to prepare themselves for these and the other omni-channel situations that are sure to arise have had the edge in 2015 and will keep it going forward.
The model is increasingly “always-on”
Another underscore of the need for flexibility on the part of the retailer when envisioning and creating the buying experience, is that consumer are increasingly shopping on their own schedules. That’s to say some shop in bed when they wake up or just before sleep, while others are making purchases on their lunch break at work, and many are doing it in transit, tapping out their purchases on their smart phones during the daily commute. This is yet another reason that retailers need to embrace an omni-channel approach and invest in all platforms—user-friendly websites, apps, etc.
It’s impossible to say exactly how many sales are made Online
Because the word of the day is omni-channel, it’s getting harder and harder to say whether a given purchase was made online or in the store. Consider the examples in the first point. The first involved online research and price-comparison but the purchase was ultimately in the store. In the second, the purchase was initially made online, but the final product that the consumer went home with came out of a local store’s stock. That you can’t put a specific number to online sales anymore is just another sound argument that retailers need to embrace and invest in an omni-channel model.
What’s needed is new technology but also sophisticated logistics
Many retailers will be tempted to focus on digital technology like user-friendly websites and apps as well data collection, analytics, and highly refined customer communication. And these are all necessary for anyone who wants to compete in the 2015 market. But in order to really meet the needs of the modern consumers, retailers also need to invest heartily in sophisticated logistical systems. Omni-channel models can mean higher costs, so retailers need to put more resources toward inventory management and fulfillment in order to find the best ways to increase efficiency.
5 companies that are embracing omnichannel can be viewed here in this great round up by the Guardian news paper.
How can you make your Magento store work with an Omni-channel model?
Fortunately there are a number of Magento extensions that enable companies to embrace an omni-channel approach. From click and collect to better logistics here is a our rundown of the best Magento extensions for an omni-channel environment:
Turn your magento store into a point of sale terminal
ebizmarts have created an extension that enables companies to use their Magento store as a point of sale system on an iPad. Easy to configure, you can use this in your bricks and mortar shop or for offline ordering in your office. Seamlessly manage your inventory from one point to avoid stock issues.
List your stores on your website and offer click and collect
Magestore have created a brilliant extension called Store Pickup which allows you to add your bricks and mortar stores to your website and configure them for click and collect. Your customers can see all of your stores in one place and select them during checkout for delivery of the product ordered.
Take control of your shipping rates like never before
Webshopapps have developed a platform called ShipperHQ which enables companies to manage all of their shipping rates quickly and efficiently, improving customer service and growing with your business.
Omni-channel customer service
Zendesk have created a very useful guide and survey on the state of omni-channel customer service. It is not just about how your customers purchase from you, it is about how they can obtain quality customer service, not just in store, but also on the phone, online or via mail.
What is your experience with omni-channel?
We would love to hear your experiences of omni-channel and what your thoughts are.
Orginal Article above is taken from it source What is Omni-channel shopping? by Digital 4 Business.
How to Catch Up With the Omni-channel
Parago CMO, Rodney Mason, wrote an article featured in Chain Store Age on the shortening path to purchase, and what it means for retailers. With consumers using multiple devices to make buying decisions, the path to purchase is getting shorter, and deal-seeking activities are increasing. This creates new marketing demands for retailers — and a shorter time-line to win business.
According to Parago’s research, consumers no longer spend weeks or months planning purchasing decisions, even on higher-priced items. The average time to purchase is now just three days — and often only one day.
So, how can retailers avoid being left behind?
Use sophisticated pricing techniques such as best-in-market prices to disrupt the path to purchase
Stop shoppers in their tracks with dynamic-price rebates (while protecting their margins)
Convert sales with a compelling value proposition
1. Ready, Set, Rebates
CMO Rodney Mason was recently interviewed by Perry Simpson, contributing writer at Direct Marketing News about the ongoing struggle between e-tailers and retailers. Since the rise of multi-channel shopping, traditional retailers have struggled to compete with the convenience, prices and expansive inventory e-tailers offer. So, how do can retailers compete with — dare we say — Amazon?
Parago CMO, Rodney Mason, says, “People do prefer to shop in stores, but they’re so price sensitive that they’ll take those Amazon prices all day long. But, there’s an opportunity here for retailers to leverage rebates and in-store pickup.”
Instead of aggressive price matching — which can damage margins — Mason suggests offering instant rebate offers. “Putting an offer in the customer’s hand works, and a lot of customers are willing to make an immediate purchase in-store if the retailer can offer the best market price through something like a rebate,” he says.
2. In the Omni-channel, Rebates Trump Instant Discounts
Parago’s recent omni-channel research revealed that shoppers prefer time-sensitive dynamic-price rebates over instant discounts. Comparison-shopping has become a routine practice for the majority of shoppers. Always-connected devices have made deal seeking and show-rooming easier than ever, shortening the time it takes for shoppers to make purchase decisions. In fact, the path-to-purchase is now only 1–2 days across a dozen product categories.
How can retailers win sales? According to Parago’s research, disrupting the path-to-purchase with time-sensitive dynamic-price rebates is the most effective approach.
3. Omni-channel Shopper Report: Consumers Shopping Across More Channels, More Quickly
Omni-Channel shopper research indicates that retailers must dynamically disrupt the path to purchase.
Retailers still reeling from a lackluster holiday season may not be communicating with consumers effectively, according to new omni-channel shopper research from Parago. The survey shows that American shoppers remain highly sensitive to price, but they are also making purchasing decisions more quickly than in the past. For retailers, this means there is a smaller window to intercept customers with great deals to close sales.
The Parago shopper report “Need for Speed: Disrupting the Omni-Channel” shows that — thanks to brick-and-mortar, online, mobile and social channels — consumers are now able to quickly and confidently find the best deals, and make purchases swiftly
“Retailers have a lot to contend with in this new era of shopping: highly competitive prices from e-tailers like Amazon, rising smartphone adoption, the showrooming boom and incredibly price-sensitive consumers,” said Rodney Mason, CMO of parago, a global incentives and engagement company. “For retailers to thrive, they need to disrupt the path to purchase with a dynamic, real-time pricing model. Not just online, but in brick and mortar, too.”.
“Our research shows that dynamic-price rebates are one way to respond to consumers’ demand for lowest price and protecting margins, unlike across-the-board online price matching,” Mason added.
The “Need for Speed: Disrupting the Omni-Channel” can be downloaded for free here. Key findings from the research include:
Path to purchase is shorter: The average time to purchase across retail categories is now less than four days, even for big-ticket items like appliances.
Deep insights into 11 retail categories: These categories include auto parts, building supplies and home improvement, clothing, electronics, furniture, groceries, office supplies, pet products, sporting goods, subscription services (broadband, cable and utilities) and toys.
The Parago omni-channel index: We reveal the propensity to buy in the omni-channel — versus in-store — for 16 different products.
Deal-finding activities are increasing: 65% of shoppers report being more sensitive to price now than a year ago and 88% of consumers look for deals, rebates and best prices before shopping.
Showrooming threat is not dead: Four out of five 18- to 49-year-olds own smartphones, and nearly 50% of all shoppers compare prices in-store using smartphones.
Online shopping nears full saturation: 99% of shoppers with incomes at $50,000 and above shop on their computers. Two out of 5 people now shop on tablets.
To identify emerging omni-channel path-to-purchase shopping trends, Parago conducted this research during the 2013 peak holiday shopping season (in U.S -Red BMK). More than 1,500 people who represent the US consumer population responded to this original online survey.
4. Warp-speed Shopping Trend Requires New Strategy
A new article by Parago’s Rodney Mason appearing in Independent Retailer magazine gives retailers research-backed advice on dealing with omni-channel path-to-purchase shopping trends.
In “Back to School Shopping in the Omni-Channel Era,” Mason explains how consumers now spend significantly more time researching a purchase, and far less time actually shopping. This shift has necessitated a change in strategy for retailers — one that extends across all sales channels. And he talks about how tactics such as Best Price rebates and real-time Dynamic rebates enable retailers to pull a show-rooming shopper out of research mode, and get him to buy on the spot.
5. Mobile Digital Engagement: Hitting Home
Home improvement retailers are using mobile and social to deliver “how-to” content to consumers during the path to purchase. A recent article in Mobile Marketer took a look at how home improvement retailers, such as The Home Depot, Lowe’s and IKEA, are using flexible media, two-way dialogue and value-added content to drive consumer engagement.
With consumers increasingly using smartphones and tablets to research home-improvement projects, retailers are using mobile and social to disrupt the path to purchase. Plus, they’re gathering geographical data on their customers.
Parago CMO, Rodney Mason, who was included in the article, said, “Home improvement consumers are challenged trying to imagine the end result of their projects. The more clearly a retailer can bring them to a final vision, the more inclined they are to buy.”
Read the full article here.
Surviving the Omni-channel: Disrupt Now
Rodney Mason, Parago CMO wrote an article featured in Chief Marketer yesterday that urges all retailers to be faster about disrupting the shopper path to purchase. Parago’s 2013 omni-channel shopper research uncovered key shopper trends for the year ahead. And with the first quarter of 2014 coming to a close, marketers need to take action now.
According to Mason, consumers are now researching and shopping for products on multiple devices and therefore, they are taking less time to buy and are looking for best-in-market prices.
Parago’s research has shown retail marketers that their best bet is to create urgency with limited-time dynamic-price rebates.