One of the latest buzzwords to grace the retail world is omni-channel, delivering a parallel shopping experience across all buying mediums (online, in-store and mobile) and leveraging back-end data to reinforce an enhanced and more personalized customer experience. Even at the ‘big box’ retail level, aligning only online and in-store would certainly deliver incremental value in terms of both sales and experience. From a consumer perspective, think about how many times you’ve visited a retailer’s physical store and also shopped with them online, yet each channel has little to no visibility around your purchasing habits from the other medium. It’s almost like you’re two separate customers.
Interestingly omni-channel separates mobile activity, shopping and buying from a phone or tablet, from traditional e-commerce. Why, you may ask? Because mobile shopping is one of the fasting growing segments in retail. In 2012, some $25 billion of purchases came from a phone or tablet, a year over year increase of more than 80 percent. And, while it still represents a very small minority of total e-commerce activity (11 percent), eMarketer predicts that by 2016, mobile will exceed $85 billion and represent nearly 25 percent (1/4) of all e-commerce sales. And, another interesting and surprising statistic is that consumers shopping from their mobile devices spend a lot. Yes, it’s true – according to eMarketer, consumers spend an average of $329 per order when shopping from a tablet and $250 from a phone – amounts more than I would ever have imagined, but indicative of where the retail world is heading.
There is no denying that both mobile and e-commerce will continue to grow. And, coupled with the increasing attention on showrooming and the need to deliver a holistic shopping experience for consumers across any and all buying mediums, there is further proof that retailers that invest in omni-channel today will be positioned to not only attract customers, but also keep them in the future.