What with the online shopping business witnessing humongous growth, the very suggestion that the saga of e-commerce industry is coming to a close will be ridiculed. At the same time, we are habituated to compartmentalize e-commerce as an altogether different arena in contrast with physical outlet sales, it has become transparent that these are burgeoning distinctions sans drastic difference, writes Steve Dennis in Forbes.com.Simply CommerceAs far as the consumers are concerned, it is simply commerce. What is more, retailers aiming at succeeding or surviving the business, they need to fully embrace a ‘one brand, many channels’ strategy. Dennis had recently taken part at the yearly meet, shop.org, on digital commerce. Besides the falling footfalls, what he occurred to him was that the panelists were ignoring e-commerce as a stand-alone concept and in turn, many of the speakers stressed the importance of physical outlets in delivering a significant customer experience. What is more, a lion’s share of technology providers in the meet offered solutions that were very much anchored in online/offline integration or leverage, not e-commerce optimization, as was true in the past. Rather than buying into the retail apocalypse narrative and seeing brick-and-mortar stores as liabilities, most were clearly in the camp of believing that stores were (wait for it) assets. Physical retail might be different, but it clearly is not dead, he writes.“Notably, Mark Lore from Walmart/Jet spoke of the need for retailers to be channel agnostic and highlighted how Walmart's stores give the brand a distinct advantage. Get gifting now at Walmart, Free pick-up at the store as soon as today. Holiday specials – get early access to saving and its just toys as Toyland is open now.
TechStyle CEO Adam Goldenberg showcased statistics on how Fabletic's overall brand performance has been enhanced by the opening of stores and on how the merging of cross-channel data gives them an edge. Kohl's spoke of the role of mobile as a constant companion in the shopper's journey from online to offline (and vice versa). While using somewhat different language, numerous other speakers acknowledged that customers shop everywhere and the best retailers need to meet them where they are. Clearly, more and more, it's just commerce now”, Dennis pointed out.Determining Brand’s Success “Of course, the lines have been blurring for years, and study after study shows that a well-integrated shopping experience across channels (what some call omnichannel and what I prefer to call harmonized retail) is what customers desire and what often determines a brand's ultimate success”, he writes.The increasing investments in physical stores by Amazon and other digitally native brands serve to underscore this growing reality. Those of us who are familiar with retailers' customer data know that, typically, a brand's best customers are those who shop and/or are heavily influenced by both digital and physical channels. We also know that opening stores drive increases in e-commerce in that store's trade area, just as closing a store often leads to dramatic declines in online shopping. It's all just commerce, he adds.