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Digital Commerce: The Way Forward For Retailers


Digital Commerce: The Way Forward For Retailers

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Brick-and-mortar retailers faced three major challenges globally. The expanding presence of E-tailers, the growing proliferation of mobile, and staying relevant to their customers added to their woes. Read the blog to know about the own set of challenges that these problems brought on and how you can tackle them to give a holistic shopping experience to your customers across platforms, repeatedly.

Over the last decade Brick & Mortar retailers globally faced three big challenges. Firstly, they began to feel sidelined by the emerging and ever-growing lobby of e-tailers. Secondly, the proliferation of mobile devices and exponential growth of the overall e-commerce platform posed a challenge while obtaining a single view of the customer. Thirdly, they found themselves grappling with the challenge of staying relevant to their customers using social media and digital searches.

This led to eventual rapid adoption, albeit with a slow start, of strategies to counter these developments and for growth, viz.

  1. Spends on digital media began to hog the larger portion of the spends pie, gaining in priority over traditional marketing choices
  2. Offering an e-commerce channel, and participating in market places
  3. New digital marketing and customer engagement activities on the web including social media

Though these well-meaning initiatives addressed some of the concerns, they brought with them their own set of fresh challenges that prevented retailers from realizing the full potential of Digital Commerce. Some of these were:

  1. The channels were silos in framework and hence added a burden on operational costs, besides bloating inefficiencies.
  2. There were inventory challenges arising from poor optimization and lack of timely availability of stock.
  3. The business suffered inaccurate Demand estimation across channels.
  4. Due to lack of data integration, the businesses lacked visibility of customers using multiple channels.
  5. Multiple channels led to managing deficiencies resulting in inconsistent customer experience across channels, leaving the newly established e-commerce channel wanting for more.

According to a report published by Google in 2015, a new acronym WWW assumes importance for retailers, and stands for ‘what’ the customer wants, ‘when’ they want it, and ‘where’ they want it.

Clearly, the immediate road ahead signals the need for integration and consolidation, which not just holds potential for resolving these issues, but will also pave the way for the next stage of Digital Commerce. And this is how it will look like:

One customer; one inventory :

One view of the customer and of the inventory portfolio can enable a seamless customer experience and manage unified inventory.

Channel & technology agnostic retailing

Breaking down channel barriers and deploying technology that talks to all channels would enable customers to shop from anywhere, anytime, using any device.

Enablement of Customer Insights with analytics

Injecting intuitive intelligence into data would help both the customer and the shop assistants in upping sales and satisfaction.

Improving shopping efficiencies and conveniences

By facilitating faster check-outs and offering a larger basket of choices to customers across channels, customers would likely shop again.

Mass customization of preferences

Leave it to technology to provide a customer level customized experience, almost catering to them as each market segment.

Creating innovations of shopping options and optimization of customer effort

A multiple-channel seamless shopping experience can facilitate customers to buy on the go.

Engagement of brands with customers through social media

The multiplier effect of social media has brought about a paradigm shift in disseminating information – transcending from the traditional ‘one to many’ to the ‘many to many’ mode of communication.

  1. Devin Wenig, the president of eBay Marketplaces says, “The world of e-commerce and commerce are now just seamlessly merged, and everything is omnichannel”.

With these functionalities, Digital commerce would help every Brick & Mortar retailer transition from personal selling and touch-and-feel based retail to the digital medium that not just provides a seamless shopping experience for customers, but also maximizes growth in all channels For this to happen, retailers need to lay a robust foundation for a digital platform today in order to not just fully reap the benefits of an integrated platform, but to stay competitive as well.