Future of Commerce
More of What We Buy is Coming to Us
eCommerce has made rapid inroads in the retailing industry, claiming nearly 10% of the market in a relatively short period of time. That number is sure to go higher in coming years.
That’s because online retail can offer convenience and immediacy that shoppers find very appealing. Many of us don’t want to go to the mall; we want our stuff to come to us, and we want it quickly because we value our time. By extension, we value the merchants that give us more of our time back.
Yet, it seems unlikely that physical commerce will ever be completely replaced. Trying out a new sofa or leafing through lettuce in the produce aisle is easier to do in person. Physical retail offers an intimacy with some goods that is difficult to replicate online.
Growing the eCommerce pie
eCommerce will continue to grow as it has over the last two decades. It started with identifying items that could more easily be sold online—goods that didn’t require the physical aspect like razors, shampoo, and diapers, and has grown to include more and more items as comfort levels (and trust) increase with online retailing.
Getting what you expect is at the heart of a happy customer experience, and online merchants that consistently deliver quality begin to build trust with their customers. As a customer, if you’re confident that an online purchase will meet your expectations, there’s less reason to go to a store to check out the goods in person.
We value the merchants that give us more of our time back.
In mobile we trust
Our phones are mini computers. Our trust in eCommerce increases as the mobile online experience improves. With our phones, we can do anything instantaneously—know the answer to a trivia question, find out what song is playing, order a pizza to wherever we are, and shop on any mobile site or app with ease.
Mobile has also eliminated most of the age gap between digital consumers and those who prefer going to the mall. For many technology companies, that age gap just represents a small number of older generations who aren't comfortable using a mobile device. The smaller that number is, the more online shoppers there are.
Physical retail offers an intimacy with some goods that is difficult to replicate online.
Once customers trust a merchant, that merchant needs to continuously find ways to make transactions as frictionless as possible, even if it means disrupting their business to do that. If there’s something that’s important to customers that you’re missing, find out what it is and meet their expectations.
For OfferUp, where we enable neighbors to buy and sell goods from each other, that means things like making mobile payments easier, or helping them post better photos. Should we suggest prices or help improve the meetup experience? How can we reduce friction in the transaction and save people even more time? The more we do those things, the bigger our market becomes.
Simplicity, convenience, and speed are no longer just good goals. They’re expected from customers. Online retailers who consistently deliver faster, more frictionless service will not only thrive, they’ll hasten the migration of retail sales from physical stores to eCommerce.
Simplicity, convenience, and speed are no longer just good goals. They’re expected from customers.
Tell Us More
What’s one piece of advice you’d give that you’d follow?
Adapt to mobile. Consumers are spending more and more time on their devices. Retailers need to evolve to the new world. It's no different than when the web took off. Retailers need a presence where consumers spend their time.
What’s something we, as an industry, aren’t talking about that we should be?
The future is frictionless. Anything that requires us to pull a card out of a wallet will go away—even reaching for our wallet will go away. Mobile will empower this new world. As a result, consumers will get time back in their lives. We won't even need to wait in lines at some point. Amazon Go is a perfect example. At restaurants, you'll just pay at the table and leave—nobody wants to finish dinner and wait 10 minutes to pay for their meal.
What’s a product that you now buy online, but thought you never would?
Clothes. Historically I'd want to try things on. Now, I'm more open to trying it. I
haven't been inside a mall in years.
What’s a product that you don’t think you’ll ever buy online?
Underwear. New and especially used :)
You’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color are you?
Hypercolor. I can morph my color as needed.
Retailers, Give Your Customers What They Want
Brian Kilcourse, Retail Systems Research LLC
- Chapter 1: Disrupting Retail: eCommerce Breathes New Life Into The Retail Industry
- Chapter 2: Enabling Retail Transformation: Technology Adds a Little Bit of Magic
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