The ways consumers are now able to access retailers has profoundly changed within the last few years. In the past, consumers had to visit a physical store to purchase their items, but with the rise of the PC, online shopping and eCommerce quickly became critical components of retail operations.
As technology continues to evolve, the ways eCommerce transactions take place today have begun to change. Consumers are frequently using phones and tablets to perform the tasks that used to require a computer.
The methods of communication between businesses and consumers have also changed as a result of the way social media has come to play a role in eCommerce business operations.
Accordingly, in order for a retailer today to be competitive, they must ensure that their eCommerce platform has the capabilities to accommodate these new ways businesses and consumers are interacting.
But how can a multi-channel eCommerce platform optimize your business?
Capitalize on Mobile Users
To begin, consumers are significantly more connected to their portable devices than they are to their PC. Retailers are quickly realizing that the way they reach out to their target markets must reflect this changing dynamic.
In order to engage in an effective way, retailers must diversify their usage of this channel.
The layout, content management, and design of a desktop site are often inadequate for mobile use. If a customer loads a page that has been optimized for a desktop on their smartphone, they are going to find themselves looking at a site that is hard to navigate.
Content may be too small, media may fail to load, and the overall functionality of the site simply will not translate to a mobile device in the way the business intends. In order to facilitate sales, a mobile site is an absolute must-have.
Greg Sterling of Marketingland.com reported that for many of the top ten retailers in the U.S., “the mobile audience is larger than the PC audience” with some of those retailers “seeing more than 50% of their traffic come from mobile-only shoppers.”
Mobile shopping is still a relatively new phenomenon, and as such, these numbers will only continue to grow as the practice of mobile shopping becomes more commonplace.
Moreover, mobile sites may be turning into a requirement for retailers who wish to be included in Google’s search results. This is because the search engine recognizes that many people are turning to their mobile devices to function the way the PC used to, and Google wants to provide sites that are optimized for the device they are using.
Searchengineland.com reports Google’s new method of determining which results are presented to the user is “designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s mobile search results.”
Accordingly, eCommerce retailers must incorporate mobile-optimized sites into their arsenal, or risk losing those customers.
A mobile site is not the only way a retailer can diversify their channel to reach mobile users.
Mobile apps are an additional channel where consumers are expecting to be able to interact with businesses. Brian Solomon of Forbes.com reported that in 2014, “shopping app usage grew faster than any other category of apps.”
Retailers must be able to provide an app that represents their business in a professional way, and in a way that makes shopping via their app easy for the consumer to understand. When retailers make it easy for a consumer to spend money, they can expect to see significant returns in their bottom line.
Join the Social Media Trend
Retailers may also find they benefit from having a social media eCommerce channel.
Lauren Indvik of mashable.com reported that when the clothing retailer Express began offering Facebook as a way for customers to shop their online store, “inventory, pricing, wishlists and comments [were] automatically synced across Express’s other web and mobile sites, creating a seamless shopping experience across platforms and devices.”
This demonstrates the functionality and potential for a single component of an multi-channel eCommerce platform to enhance the overall platform. For retailers that have formed meaningful engagements with their consumers, it makes sense to offer a point of sale where there are demonstrated successful engagements.
Therefore, these types of retailers will need a social media channel in their eCommerce platform.
Revitalize the In-Store Shopping Experience
Though online shoppers are the primary focus of eCommerce retailers, the in-store shopping option can still be a significant part of their eCommerce operations.
Many shoppers may visit a website as a preliminary way to determine if they should spend time in the store. A site that effectively represents the retailer in a way that resonates with the consumer may compel that shopper to visit the store.
Additionally, for a retailer to offer a storefront is something that will allow them to connect with a consumer on a more personal level, as well as showcase new products, and even allow for product demonstrations.
All of these aspects of an in-store shopping may ultimately entice a consumer to purchase something they otherwise might not have- whether it be they purchase it in store, or visit the website to complete the transaction at a later date.
Therefore, a multi-channel eCommerce platform that offers the in-store channel will connect the retailer to the eCommerce customer in another profitable way.
By offering a multi-channel eCommerce platform, retailers are able to cater to their customers in the way they wish to conduct business. It is no longer enough to simply exist on the web.
An eCommerce retailer must offer their consumer multiple channels through which they can conduct their shopping, and connect to the retailer.
Consumers are demonstrating a change in the way are choosing to conduct business, and mobile sites, apps, and social media sites are increasingly becoming more important to eCommerce transactions.