In the past decade there have been two winners in the retail space – warehouse clubs and web-based stores, according to Patti Freeman Evans, Research Director at Forrester Research. During this afternoon’s session, The Evolution of Ecommerce and Multi-Channel Retail, Patti and Kate Delhagen, Global Digital Business Director, Nike, took a look back at the success of the digital channel.
So, why has the web won?
The web has created a new competitive market in which geography is no longer the driving force. Companies cite Amazon, eBay, and small online shops as their competition, in addition to traditional players. The web has created a border-less world in which much broader and global markets exist. Successful retailers must have conversations about how best to manage that marketplace.
The web has empowered brands allowing companies to enforce their brand image and message. 57% of U.S. respondents agreed with the statement, “When I find a brand I like, I stick to it.” It is therefore up to retailers to ensure that the consumer experience with their brand is consistent. For example, store associates should have access to the web to educate themselves and sell product – thereby having access to the same information that the consumer has access to.
Channel sales are getting blurred. In the next two years, over half of U.S. retail sales will be influenced or impacted by the web. Nike refers to this new world as “bricks and mobile” and internally stresses the importance of watching what is happening online, both at digital interfaces such as Facebook and competitors’ websites.
Moving forward, the format will continue to evolve. Associates should be encouraged to use the web to make purchases online in order to find the right product for the consumer. In addition, new in-store experiences will be created in tandem with the web. Consumers will have the ability to take pictures of themselves in the store – perhaps wearing a new dress or pair of sunglasses – and post the picture to their Facebook page. Mobile is a multichannel opportunity.
However, the changing environment will require the creation and use of new metrics evaluations, as isolating dot-com sales can be challenging. It was predicted that the industry may eventually move away from comp store sales as the fundamental measure of success.
Kate and Patti closed by predicting that brands and retailers will soon be forced to:
• Be more efficient.
• Be channel agnostic.
• Invest in technologies that enable efficiency.
The web has only scratched the surface in terms of its potential impact on retail. I’m sure our predecessors couldn’t have predicted a discussion of this nature at this, our 100th Annual Convention. As the web continues to evolve, retailers must focus on the opportunities presented and adapt in order to ensure their success in the years to come.