The Future of E-Commerce: Omnichannel Marketing

Ecommerce

When e-commerce companies first appeared on the modern business landscape, they were a disruptive force, sending shock waves through the world of traditional brick and mortar retail. Over time, the world came to understand the power of online retailing, and it became a permanent fixture of modern business.

This onslaught forced traditional retailers to re-evaluate brick and mortar locations against what could be gained from e-commerce stores. Many are adapting to this new reality with a shift in retail strategy. Companies such as Wal-Mart are wisely viewing physical stores as places where customers can pick up and return merchandise, a combination of e-commerce and physical retail that makes the purchase experience more convenient than either an e-commerce or retail store alone. This omnichannel merchandising strategy is the future, but it’s not limited to heavy-hitters such as Amazon or Wal-Mart. The shift towards omnichannel is already being adopted by mid-range companies such as Warby Parker, Shopify and Casper, and will likely continue be adopted by small to medium-sized business across the retail and e-commerce landscape.

Opening a brick and mortar space for an e-commerce retailer is worth it if the business model supports it. At StickerYou, our product – customized, die-cut stickers, labels, decals, etc. –  is tangible and lends itself to an in-person experience that can’t be replicated or accurately shown online. A brick and mortar, which we will open in early 2019, will give people the opportunity to touch and feel the quality of our product, as well as be exposed to the many creative ways it can be used. This alone will make the search experience a more memorable one, kind of like searching through records in a bin and discovering something new you didn’t know you were looking for. For brands with products that have qualities that can be highlighted by in-person experiences, an omnichannel strategy makes sense. In many places in North America, a corresponding dip in retail rents and possible reductions in the lengths of lease agreement terms due to retail locations closing may also be an advantage in pursuing an omnichannel strategy.

An omnichannel strategy for smaller retail stores may view a brick and mortar location as more than just a place for product pick-ups and drop-offs. The real advantage here is that the brick and mortar space can serve as part of a larger marketing initiative, an interactive and unique trial experience. The economics of a marketing ROI may be enhanced for businesses entering an omnichannel strategy from an e-commerce-only standpoint. Landlords may be more open to pop up concepts or shorter term rent deals, meaning a lower risk to test out a brick and mortar space. The ROI from the awareness created with a brick and mortar store, including drop-ins, walk-by traffic, etc., can be viewed against sales from the physical location as well as incremental increases in online sales. Even if the store operates at a loss, it can be worth the investment from a marketing perspective, if the impressions generated or incremental traffic to the website comes in at a lower cost per click than what would otherwise be spent with the same funds for just online advertising.

Omnichannel is the new phase of e-commerce retailing, and will only grow. Now is the time to consider whether it might be the right strategy for your business.

Author: StickerYou Founder & President, Andrew Witkin

Andrew

As the founder of a global e-commerce leader in custom-printed, die-cut products, Andrew Witkin is widely recognized as a leading authority on e-commerce, customization, startups, marketing and the tech economy. Witkin has also served as VP North American Licensing for Nelvana/Corus Entertainment and Director of Marketing for MegaBrands/Mattel.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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