Somewhere between the launch of the dot-com era and 2014 – e-Commerce graduated from ‘business buzz term’ to a fully fledged, recognisable and sincere part of the retail marketing vernacular.
Not only that – its future looks bright!
According to several European industry heavyweights e-Commerce will be a “dominant retail channel in Europe… and will eventually become the majority (retail) channel in China” (Bowman, Online and offline lessons from retailers in emerging markets, 2013).
This is further highlighted by a European study of 146 key retailers (all with sales greater than €100m per year) that found 68% of retailers regarded e-Commerce as an opportunity of increased revenue (Karlovsky, Retailers seek online growth in Europe, Accenture, 2012). These figures suggest that European consumers have shifted away from the traditional ‘Bricks and Mortar’ retailer and have embraced the concept of online shopping.
However, in Australia the notion of purchasing online has not yet become consistent consumer behaviour. This is supported by a Magna Global report released in September 2013 which states that 53% of respondents still like to engage with a real person when buying a product (Asia Media Journal, Australian online retail matures, 2013). I found this interesting, maybe it’s that unique sense of Australian collectivism and mateship that has so far not seen us completely embrace e-Commerce. We still seem to enjoy going to shops to seek out advice.
What is unsurprising is that Australia is lagging behind the traditionally progressive continent of Europe and the current powerhouse of economic growth China. It is interesting that the rate at which retail in both these markets has changed in today’s technological landscape. A criticism of the current technological world is the instant gratification, loss of patience and inability to solve complex problems that becomes heightened in today’s hyper-connected individual.
In 5 years time, the above societal issues will become more significant and I believe the great challenge facing retailers will be on how they can deliver on 3 key things;
- The ability to create experiences that fulfils a deep human need
- The ability for people to share these experiences
- The above 2 items to be instantaneous
Interestingly, the jewel in the bricks and mortar retailer crown is the ability to provide product instantly and I believe that in 5 years time, retailers who are excelling on the above 3 points will have more success than their competitors who focus solely on lower prices as their point of difference.
Products will remain as important as ever -and as technology continues to evolve, the traditional retail model of manufacturing products first and seeking out buyers second will do a complete reversal. Smart brands will seek out insightful consumer information first and then tailor products accordingly. And with this, e-Commerce will become the dominant force within the retail category.