Commentary

Not Channel, But Service Shoppers

According to author Steve Rowen, for RSR research, for quite some time our industry has grappled a term to describe how people really shop. Omni-channel, channel-less, or post-channel. Whichever you prefer, says the report, the principle remains the same; consumers don’t think about channels, they just shop wherever and however they like.

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Despite this, however, RSR research shows us that retailers still think very much in a world of channels. We cannot stress enough how dangerous this model is going forward, says Rowen. While the “retail apocalypse” may not have occurred, a “thinning out of the existing herd to make way for the more adaptable,” is in full swing. The time is at hand to stop thinking of retail by channels. 

There’s So Much More To Value Than Price

The “race to the bottom” on pricing wars appears to be at it’s low point, says the report. Suddenly facing this reality, many retailers are left wondering “now what do we do?” And with the threat of Amazon ever looming, the answer is what it always should have been: improve the customer experience. 

As products become increasingly ubiquitous, it is more difficult than ever to differentiate based on product. And with prices at an all time low, that option has exhausted itself as well. The third way to differentiate, service, is prime for the picking. Customer expectations about great shopping experiences are at an all-time high, but their experiences, even online says Rowen, still feel a lot like they did 20 years ago. Rethink the way your company presents itself to the world, in every way but price, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success, concludes the report. 

Look For Real Opportunities In The Near-Future

Hype surrounding the capability of personalization tools far outstrips real-world feasibility right now, but real opportunity is lurking just around the corner. Winners tell us that the ability to create more personalized experiences online is the number one way they’ll stay winning going forward.

While it may seem counterintuitive to warn against a technology whose analytics capabilities offer so much potential to retailers all over the world, it is important to remember that such advanced solutions can only be leveraged once an organization has ensured its data is reliable, its KPIs are accurate, and its house in in full order. 

Rethink The Role Your eCommerce Platform Could Play

For as long as we’ve been conducting eCommerce research we’ve noted that many retailers are sitting in wait for “one platform to rule them all”, says Rowen. While 2017 saw a marked increase in belief that such a technology would soon be in existence, 2018 reveals that Retail Winners are betting big that they can now pull this off. Nearly 3 out of 4 want to leverage their eCommerce platform in interesting new ways across the enterprise, far more than any of their peers. 

Retailers would be wise to follow their lead, concludes Rowen.

For additional information from RSR, please visit here.

 

 

1 comment about "Not Channel, But Service Shoppers".
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  1. Richard Reisman from Teleshuttle Corporation, August 21, 2018 at 9:09 a.m.

    Right, "consumers don’t think about channels, they just shop wherever and however they like." A perspective on this, and on the increasingly service-centered nature of modern commerce is in my recent post, "The Relationship Economy -- It's All About Valuing Customer Experiences" (http://bit.ly/FPZTien). Channels are a company-centric artifact of pre-digital commerce, increasingly irrelevant in our connected, customer-centric world.

    Some related points on this are in my "Bricks and Clicks -- Showrooming, Riggio, and Bezos" (http://bit.ly/2rJUhFh), which suggests the channel view of bricks vs. clicks is "just an aspect of that. It is much like the famous New Yorker's View of the World magazine cover by Steinberg. Traditional retail businesses view online from their store-centered perspective, adding online services to counter and co-opt the enemy attack.
    Online businesses view stores from the online-centered perspective, dabbling in stores and depots to expand their beachhead. Only a few, like Bezos, see the big picture of an agnostic, flexible blend of resources and capabilities that most effectively provide what we want, when and how we want it."

    "To see the larger view we must climb above our attachments to stores and warehouses, or Web sites and apps. We must consider the objectives of the customers and how best to give them whatever they want, with whatever resources can be applied, as costs permit. How we orchestrate those resources to meet those objectives will change rapidly, as our systems and their integration improves. Only the most far-sighted and nimble will see and go more than a few steps down this path."

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