Retailers need to make the Web a
core part of the shopping experience.
It's no secret that a growing number of consumers are relying on the Web to aid their shopping trips. Whether they are buying straight from online stores or simply using the Internet as a starting reference point, it has proven to be a valuable asset to shoppers.
In fact, one report from Forrester Research found that as many as 60 percent of U.S. retail sales will involve the Internet in one way or another by 2017. Approximately 10.3 percent of total retail sales in the United States in 2017 will be conducted online, compared to 5.2 percent in 2012. This illustrates just how pervasive the Web currently is and how it will continue to grow over the next few years.
"Driving this e-retailing growth is the increasing ubiquity of smartphone ownership
in the United States along with retailers' investments in enabling eCommerce and mobile applications, such as mobile coupons," Internet Retailer added, citing Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru. "By the end of 2013, 150 million (47.3 percent) of the country's population of 317 million will be regular mobile Internet users."
Preparing for Web-influenced shoppers
With the Internet playing a more pivotal role in the shopping experience, it's crucial that merchants have an effective omnichannel retailing
strategy in place to engage these individuals.
Retailers should start by nailing the mobile shopping experience. Mobile devices can be used in omnichannel strategies in a variety of ways. For example, some merchants offer mobile apps that can detect when shoppers are near a store and use that data to offer discounts and help them find products. Even if retailers simply offer a mobile website, that can be a great starting point.
Omnichannel order fulfillment
will also play a critical role in creating a seamless shopping experience. Waiting for orders to be processed and delivered can be one of the huge pain points of online shopping, but with the right order fulfillment initiatives, retailers can eliminate that part of the process.
"This approach leverages the increasing amount of research that happens online while taking advantage of store inventory that may be trapped in slower-turning stores," Mulpuru told Internet Retailer.
With the Internet influencing more retail purchases, it's absolutely critical that retailers take the necessary steps to leverage the Web as a means to personalize and otherwise improve the shopping process. Mobile devices, in-store pickup and other similar omnichannel retailing strategies can go a long way in tying everything together.