It seems like the eCommerce world shifts on a daily basis right now. And today’s shift is one that many experts didn’t see coming.
Many customers are still buying products from traditional brick-and-mortar stores — but they’re doing it in new ways that don’t involve entering the store at all. That trend has eCommerce experts asking questions about what this means for the future of retail.
Will this increase in physical store popularity continue to rise in the post-pandemic world?
What does this mean for the future of eCommerce?
And most critically, will an omnichannel presence for retailers be more important now than ever before?
A Shift In the System
When looking at the potential comeback of brick-and-mortars, we need to talk about the buy-online, pickup-in-store concept, or BOPIS.
By offering customers a flexible service like BOPIS, brick-and-mortar retailers have been able to provide guests with a significantly more convenient, accessible, and faster shopping experience, which has been crucial in the midst of a global pandemic.
In a nutshell, BOPIS has helped bridge that gap between the online world and the physical one. But will this bridge remain standing in the post-pandemic world?
Industry experts are weighing in.
“It’s more important now than ever before for retailers to work to remove the technology burden by developing best-in-breed solutions across an entire consumer journey and creating a new engagement model between retailers and their solution provider,” shares Roland Gossage, Chief Executive Officer of GroupBy Inc. “A true omnichannel experience bridges the gaps between desktop, mobile, telephone and brick and mortar stores, providing an integrated and seamless customer experience, from shopping to buying to order fulfillment and beyond. And this is imperative for retailers to thrive now only in today’s market, but in the post-pandemic world as well.”
The omnichannel experience, if executed correctly, allows customers to interact with retailers at a variety of touchpoints.
For example, a customer might visit one or two store locations to check out a product and speak to experts. Then, they might visit the online shop to see what else is available, price compare and decide on which laptop to buy. Next, they’ll likely confirm their decision by reading comments and reviews on the retailer’s website and social media pages. If they want to get the laptop right away, they might check the product’s inventory at a nearby location and then choose to pick it up in store or at curbside.
As customers grow more and more accustomed to being able to interact with a retailer through multiple touchpoints, the demand for a seamless omnichannel experience will also increase.
In fact, Forrester predicts that more than 25 percent of all retail sales will take place online by 2024.
This means that it is absolutely critical for retailers to offer an efficient, user-friendly, and positive omnichannel experience to their customers.
But that’s easier said than done.
In fact, Gartner recently reported that 77 percent of B2B buyers said their last transaction was difficult.
“If the online buying experience is overcomplicated, customers will go elsewhere,” shares GroupBy’s Roland Gossage. “A seamless omnichannel experience that nurtures buyers and anticipates their needs should eliminate the pain points that those 77% are experiencing. Retailers need to provide the right information at the right time to assist customers in advancing along the buying journey as seamlessly as possible.”
While brick-and-mortars may bounce back, retailers will need to continue to focus on ensuring a true omnichannel experience if they are going to continue to be successful in the future.
And that integration between the physical store and the online world will be more important than ever as the economy in general — and retail especially — recovers from the worst of the pandemic.