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There's a great deal of talk about what retail consumers want and expect and how those expectations are growing every day. Research from Elastic Path reveals that meeting those demands, and delivering a rewarding customer experience, requires flexible e-commerce.
It's a critical strategy, according to the research, for all brands that want to meet ballooning consumer demands during the holiday season and other busy sales seasons such as back-to-school.
The term has a simple definition: being able to pivot fast to meet consumer demand from inventory stock to delivery. At this point 75% of consumers expect same-day delivery from all brands this year, and 72% expect to be able to purchase online and pick up on curbside, according to Elastic Path data.
Retail Customer Experience reached out to Darin Archer, chief strategy officer at Elastic Path, to learn more about the research findings and the importance of deploying flexible e-commerce systems.
Q. So Elastic Path has done some research about what consumers want and expect. Can you share a few highlights and did any of the data reflect a dramatic change or turn in regards to consumer wants?
A. Elastic Path’s Sci-Fi Shopper report states 75% of shoppers will expect all deliveries to be next-day deliveries by the end of 2020, which is pretty dramatic. A few other highlights show how consumers are changing how they want to shop. By next year, 63% of people will want the ability to make purchases via mobile text, 56% will want Alexa-supported shopping experiences and 50% will want the ability to purchase things from a smartwatch. Clearly, we all want the Jetsons lifestyle and might even be ok with turning into 'lardballs' like the humans in the Pixar movie WALL-E.
Q. The term flexible e-commerce is all about being able to pivot quick. Can you offer more insight on what it actually means and if retailers are getting onboard?
A. Flexible e-commerce is all about brands being able to meet customers wherever they may be, across any device or touchpoint. Retailers definitely recognize the need for flexible e-commerce in an increasingly digital world that’s evolving at breakneck speeds. Many of the retailers that are struggling to stay above water right now made this realization too late. The leaders are collapsing their commerce platforms into one unified solution that can provide consistency and agility for any use case, from the pop-up shop, line-busting or self-checkout, to vending machines and kiosks.
Q. One of this year’s biggest trends has been all about delivery – and your data shows 75% expect same-day delivery which is huge right? Amazon blazed that trail a long time ago but where does the rest of e-commerce retailers stand? Are they adopting strategies to make that happen or struggling to make that happen?
A. The expectations Amazon has set for shipping speeds will continue to have an enormous impact on all retailers. The promise of same-day delivery is hard to keep, even for Amazon. Many brands, however, are adopting strategies to meet consumers' conditioned delivery expectations. Target, for example, is using Shipt to offer same-day delivery from their brick-and-mortar locations. Best Buy uses a third party as well to offer "Order by 3 p.m., get it by 9 p.m." Next year I think we’ll see a wave of similar announcements with most small and large retailers leveraging a partner for delivery. A number of years ago there was an explosion of options to get your favorite restaurant’s food delivered to your door. Between these companies, new ones focused on this space such as Deliv and the rideshare companies like Uber, I expect most everyone to have some form of delivery offering. The question will be in the unit economics and who can do it profitably.
Q. How are retailers and brand making e-commerce more flexible away from such delivery expectations. Any examples you can share?
A. One example is the growing implementation of voice technology among B2C brands. Voice and other technologies that help take the friction out of the shopping experience will be a boon to these businesses. Our study found 69% of consumers want the ability to order groceries via voice assistant. Nationwide, an insurance and financial services company, is giving away one million Echo Auto devices. Panera Bread lets me reorder my lunch from yesterday and Carter's lets me check in on my kids clothing order. Best Buy, Lamps Plus, HSN, B&H Photo, BJ’s Wholesale, Macy’s and even Walmart all have an Alexa skill. Most of these weren’t there a few months ago. We can surely expect to see brands and consumers using voice more widely next year.
Q. Any predictions on what will be the consumer focus next year, the way delivery was this year?
A. We’ll see the theme of convenience that we’ve seen with delivery in 2019 continue into 2020. In short, shopping could start to look like shoplifting. We can expect physical retailers to implement as few transaction points as possible by mimicking Amazon Go grocery stores. 23% of Amazon fans would choose another retailer over Amazon if the retailer offered more physical store options. I for one don'’t expect to get out of my car as much if I pull into a retailer's parking lot.
Companies: Elastic Path Inc
Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She serves as editor of Retail Customer Experience and Food Truck Operator.www