Retail as We Know it is Changing

w3bstoreBy Mark Chin

Ecommerce is growing at 10 times the rate of brick and mortar retail. Store closures dominated the headlines earlier this year: Macy’s®, J.C. Penney®, Payless®, and Toys “R” Us® to name a few. Is this the end of retail? Or is it just the end of retail as we know it? The success of some retailers, like Home Depot®, Ulta® and Walmart® suggest the latter.

Factors separating winners from losers are varied, but one thing is clear: the winners know how to harness all channels — online, mobile and retail, to their advantage. Viewed from another angle, the winners know how to serve today’s mobile consumers.

The smartphone has made it easier than ever to shop wherever and whenever consumers want. Hunting for goods in person is no match for the convenience of mobile shopping. An infinite selection of goods and services is now in every consumer’s hand.

Merchants can show and sell everything in stock. They can answer almost any question, including price, without lifting a finger, and they can do it 24/7. An online store is like a sales rep that’s everywhere at anytime.

If the benefits are so great, why doesn’t every merchant have an online store? Retailers focused on local markets see no value in shipping orders. Shipping requires staff and marketing. Many see online selling as complex or costly.

But today’s consumers demand service from every channel. Retailers must sell online with in-store pickup from any store. They must accept returns at any store, and manage inventory across all stores, and they need to do this in real-time, while doing their day-job.

Legacy multi-platform solutions aren’t designed to handle these complex needs. A new unified platform is required to handle multi-store orders, inventory, and fulfillment. This is what a native omnichannel retail platform does.