The possibilities to sell goods to customers have never been easier and numerous than today. eBay, Etsy, Amazon, Craigslist, online stores, mail-to-order, garage sales, flea markets, auctions, product parties and pop-up stores are just a few alternatives to the classic physical store. This huge selection enables customers to shop according to their preferences.
Consumers now define their own service expectations, and in times of omnipresent mobile and social media that means to be connected with the vendor all the time in different ways. And with all this distraction around us, customers are becoming less patient and more visual. Videos become a popular form of communication.
A lot of times the first contact a consumer makes with a brand today is through social networks. It’s not always through the company website but very often through Facebook or Twitter. Consumers are interested in checking out promotions, targeted offers or reviews of a company before they approach the company. Therefore, retailers need to be conscious of the content they feed to their costumers through their different channels of information. Contradictory messages on different media platforms disturb the authenticity and credibility of a company.
It is important that retailers invest in consumer engagement across all channels and touch points. The process of interacting with a customer is no longer just face-to-face. The key is to stay in the loop with the customer and be there when help is needed. From the moment the customer recognizes the company on the internet, to the physical experience in the brick and mortar store, to the purchase of a product at the online store of the company at midnight, to the smooth delivery and the news update per email, there must be consistent conversation with the customer.
Convenience is increasingly the main factor behind today’s consumer decisions. Depending on price, delivery and buying experience consumers choose the sales channel that suits their needs the best. Certainly this is also a matter of speed.
Companies have to adapt to these ongoing challenges through continuous innovation and transformation. To understand why consumers make certain buying decisions; what catches their interest and which channels they are most attracted to is crucial in times of unlimited retail.
But convenience does not only mean cheap fast and easy. Consumers require a consistent buying experience that is independent from the way they interact with a retailer. To be present on all sales channels, retailers need to eliminate the boundaries between physical and digital shopping. The shopping experience must be as participatory and collaborative as possible and must include the indoor as well as the outdoor perception of the customer.
The developments in eCommerce (online), mCommerce (mobile) and fCommerce (Facebook) in the last years illustrate the concept of retail without limits. The question is not online or physical stores are the future of retail. The successful retailer will be the one that is physically and virtually connected with his customers and who offers a convenient buying experience whenever and however the consumer chooses to interact with a brand.
Retail without limits; Oracle 2015