eCommerce needs to continue innovating
Success in retail has always come down to finding proper combinations. Traditionally, if you offered the highest quality merchandise, you commanded the highest price. If you wanted to compete on price, you clicked back the quality a couple of notches. Or if you didn’t want to compete on price or quality, you made consumer convenience a differentiator. (An entire industry grew out of that approach: convenience stores.)
eCommerce is no different in principle. It is, however, very different in practice. The rapid evolution of online and mobile technologies enables retailers to engage with consumers in myriad new ways. Success will still come down to determining the proper combinations — it’s just that there are many more possible combinations than ever before. And small degrees of difference will often make all the difference.
Let’s start with convenience and work backward.
Convenience was what the first generation of eCommerce was all about. You could order merchandise online and have it delivered to your home, saving you the time and aggravation of going to the store. The second generation was about content marketing — about using web tools like video to create moments of inspiration for the consumer.
So then what is next must involve something beyond convenience and content, right?
Not necessarily. Retailers are realizing that there are still small, but crucial, incremental gains to be made in existing areas like consumer convenience.
By now the consumer is savvy enough to realize that the web is not a destination, not a “store” per se. It’s a communication medium. And more and more consumers want to collapse the amount of communication that’s necessary between the moment of inspiration and the moment of purchase. If they’ve just seen an amazing video that has inspired them to want to buy a product, they want to buy that product right away. They don’t want to leave that site and go someplace else where they have to run a gantlet of required fields and multiple clicks in order to order.
Maybe your reaction to that is an eye roll. Really? Would it kill you to make a couple of extra clicks to get thatpet-collar camera?
No, of course not. But then, the whole point is that a discretionary purchase like a pet-collar camera is not a matter of life and death. It addresses a want, not a need. And when it comes to wants, what consumers want most of all is to make purchases with as little friction as possible.
New combinations of online and offline
That same principle of maximum convenience applies to in-store purchases as well — and the retailers who figure that out first are going to win.
Let’s take groceries as an example.
Food is an obvious need — but it can also be a highly marketable want. To be successful, grocers need to figure out which type of food shoppers they’re trying to reach and adapt their approach accordingly.
Basically, there are two types of grocery shoppers: List-checkers and foodies.
List-checkers to go to the grocery store on the weekend determined to buy everything they’ll need for the following week in one stop, as quickly and cheaply as possible.
For foodies, grocery shopping isn’t a weekend chore — it’s a favorite pastime. They don’t mind making an extra stop at the fish market for fresh seafood. And they love to experiment. They take their time to find just the right ingredients to make those kimchi quesadillas they heard about.
Foodies flock to places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. List-checkers gravitate toward superstores.
On the surface, that would seem to be the traditional choice of quality vs. price, without much opportunity for additional differentiation. But a closer look reveals that modern digital tools could actually create important differences between competing stores in multiple areas, including convenience.
Think about the inefficiency and inconvenience built into a superstore-type grocery. You go through the store loading up your shopping cart. Then, after waiting in line (and on the weekend it can be a long line) you unload your cart so all the items can be scanned. Then the cart has to be loaded again. (If you use a self-checkout, you end uploading your own cart twice.)
Imagine if you could just use your phone to scan each item and place it in your cart as you go through the store, then bypass the checkout line and head straight to your car? If you had a choice between two superstores and one of them offered that feature and one didn’t, which one would you choose?
If you’re a foodie, on the other hand, imagine if your phone allowed you to scan a barcode while you were at your favorite boutique grocery outlet, and instantly get a video in which a celebrity chef offers a quick word of advice on whether to use flour or corn tortillas when making your kimchi quesadillas.
This technology is not futuristic — it’s here
The future of eCommerce will be about further eliminating pain points while adding pleasurable experiences and moments of inspiration, all while blurring the line between needs and wants. At Elastic Path, we offer custom mobile self-checkout that is app-less and seamless. Customers love the mobile self-checkout experience due to the convenience of payment through a digital wallet or entering their own credit card information. They also love the time they save with the app-less payment method. See how Stance has used the mobile self checkout app below.
Request a demo to see our mobile self checkout works