M‑Commerce Shoppers May Start Online, Finish in Store

BY Courtney Huckabay
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Half of retailers will offer consumers "start anywhere, finish anywhere" capabilities within five years. Consumers are increasingly fickle, so rather than guess where they might spend their money, retailers are choosing to cover all bases by offering the ability to shop whenever, wherever and however.

According to a recent report from Boston Retail Partners, 56 percent of retailers said their top digital priority is to create a consistent experience across all channels. Moreover, 50 percent will offer people a “start anywhere, finish anywhere” option within five years, following the customer’s journey as she shops across and among channels.

BRP surveyed more than 500 North American retailers in June and July (29 percent of which sell apparel, accessories and footwear), asking about their digital commerce plans, priorities and future trends.

Personalization was a top digital priority for less than half of those surveyed (40 percent), while 50 percent said they want to have customer-​identifying technology within stores in two years and a further 58 percent are hoping to use geolocation by then.

Personalization is a top priority among retailers. They can achieve these digital goals by targeting mobile shoppers. 32.8% of adults have used smartphones or tablets to purchase products in the past 6 months, according to AudienceSCAN data.

Online shopping has redefined the standards for the retail customer experience and capabilities,” Jeffrey Neville, vice president at Boston Retail Partners, said. “The online or mobile shopper is now accustomed to receiving personalized offers and recommendations and having online retailers recognize them and their preferences whenever they shop. Today’s customers are no longer satisfied with a 'one size fits all' experience – they expect retailers to put time and effort into offering a personalized experience and if they don’t get it they will find a retailer who offers it.”

"The concept of unified commerce will provide retailers with methods to provide consumers with personalized and seamless experiences through a single, centralized platform," Jen King wrote. "By developing an order management system (OMS) as a singular transactional platform, retailers will be able to fulfill orders from a “single, shared cart.”

Once a single, shared cart platform is established, the OMS will become the retailer’s primary point for all transactions, inventory, pricing and order management, CRM, customer service and other aspects. BRP refers to this as the “glass pipeline of real-​time visibility,” providing retailers with easy access to inventory, product information and, importantly, customer data.

By implementing a single, shared cart system, retailers will be more in sync with consumers' expectations of personal, ubiquitous and unified experiences when shopping online.

Retailers can tout their tech and personalized shared carts in mobile smartphone app ads or text message ads, because 35.9% of M‑commerce Shoppers took action based on these in the past 30 days. Or they could try sponsored search, since AudienceSCAN reports 35.8% of M‑commerce Shoppers took action after seeing sponsored search results.

Of the North American retailers surveyed by BRP, 40 percent of respondents are focused on improving personalization tactics in the digital space. For digital marketing to be effective, retailers must push personalized, relevant, compelling and consistent messaging across all channels.

Although mobile purchasing is only a fraction of overall retail sales, the channel presents an opportunity for retailers because smartphones are most often used for research and information before an online or in-​store purchase is complete. If viewed as a shopping tool, rather than a means of communication, retailers can trace a consumer's journey as she jumps from one channel to another to make a purchase.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.