Written by Mark Gray, Managing Director APAC, ChannelAdvisor
The practice of consumers cruising down the aisle of their favourite store, only to dash home and purchase the products for a cheaper price online, has seen many bricks and mortar retailers shut up shop, while others are scrambling to adapt. Mobile initiatives are quickly growing as a popular way to shop around and the rise of barcode scanning apps, allowing shoppers to instantly compare prices across different retailers and taking this practice of 'showrooming' to another level.
While there’s a lot of attention focused around the rise of online retailing, we are unlikely to find ourselves in a world without bricks and mortar shops any time soon. And as showrooming continues to shake out in 2012, smart retailers are using this trend to redefine go-to-market strategies both online and offline.
Inevitably, while technology has brought about some of these challenges for marketers, it’s also the savvy use of technology that can help them bridge the divide. To stay ahead of the curve, smart marketers are combining the latest e-commerce tools with traditional retailing principles to provide a holistic shopping experience for consumers both online and in-store.
Building a true multichannel approach
While the need for retailers to build a presence on multiple channels is nothing new, what is new is the evolving ways consumers are using technologies to streamline their shopping habits. Take the smartphone, for example: retailers might often view the proliferation of smartphones as driving showrooming and eroding the bottom line. Recent research by Deloitte found that smartphones are in fact boosting in-store sales with 48 per cent of smartphone users indicating that their phones have impacted a decision to buy a product in a store.
One of the drivers behind the proliferation of mobile use in-store is comparison shopping apps such as Google Shopping and GetPrice.com.au. These apps allow consumers to have product information at their fingertips, so they can be more informed about the product they are about to purchase – hence the importance of having up-to-date listings as they will boost traffic to both online sites and stores.
At the recent Online Retailer conference in Sydney, Forrester revealed that in 2012, 55 per cent of Australian retailers surveyed now sell through a site accessible via mobile, up from 39 per cent in 2011 and only 16 per cent in 2010.There’s no doubt about it – mobile is everywhere, whether it’s a mobile shop front, comparison shopping sites or social media. As the lines between online and physical retailing channels continue to blur, retailers are usingwebsites accessible via mobile to provide consumers with a full shopping experience, regardless of where they are or how they are shopping.
When it comes to multichannel retailing, we find that one of the most common challenges for marketers is finding the time and resources to manage multiple platforms. This can be easily addressed by using a multichannel e-commerce platform like ChannelAdvisor, one which provides a collaborative approach to e-commerce. Retailers can use the e-commerce platform as a springboard from which they can easily expand to additional channels or take a current e-commerce channel to the next level.
There has never been more competition for bricks and mortar retailers, and as the world continues to flatten, retailers are also taking on a global set of competitors. Rather than shy away from showrooming, smart retailers are embracing this phenomenon as a means of building stores of the future which seamlessly integrate online, and bricks and mortar strategies.The new wave of multichannel retailing means that these initiatives are integrated almost seamlessly and have become an organic part of the purchasing process.
Mark Gray is the Asia-Pacific Managing Director of ChannelAdvisor, a provider of e-commerce software solutions aimed at retailers. Founded in 2001, ChannelAdvisor has grown to be a leading global vendor, optimising e-commerce technology to simplify multi-channel platforms for retailers.
After joining ChannelAdvisor in 2005, Mark has worked with some of the company’s largest customers including HP, Vodafone and B&Q. At his current role as Managing Director, Mark is responsible for overseeing sales, marketing and client service operations as well as helping retailers and manufacturers with the software and services needed to successfully sell their products via online sales channels.