Time to drop the ‘e’ out of ‘e-commerce’?

Endaba Group

Are bricks-and-mortar stores really dying? Is online retail really stealing real world sales?

The short answer is no. We need to stop thinking in silos; there is no need to separate multichannel, e-business, e-retail or stores. We need to stop pitting online versus mobile versus stores. Retail exists as a single entity – retail.

Previously well-established stores, such as Austin Reed, BHS and Aéropostale, did not collapse due to failing at digital. They collapsed because they failed at retail.

Digital channels are indeed key to these new customer experiences, but they are part of an organic whole. Digital is expected to grow 18% in 2016 alone, but total retail spend is also expected to increase from £13.3 trillion in 2015 to £13.7 trillion in 2016.

Retail conferences today frequently debate about what focus a retailer should put on their digital business or aid markets in selling the need for uniting digital and instore thinking to the senior team and board. But, we are already beyond the point where online is an additional channel that needs managing separately.  Consumers do not see themselves as “multi-” or “omni-” anything, they simply want to choose the most convenient way to shop at any particular moment. So why should retailers?

Endaba recently carried out Market Intelligence for an FMCG company looking to make a decisive step into the world of selling direct-to-consumer (D2C). We looked at best-in-class in the market and how other businesses have undergone this transformation and become omnichannel. Out of the 7 companies we looked at, almost all utilised digital as a transformation tool to gain a competitive edge in today’s challenging consumer goods market. They ensured that there were no separate online and offline strategies, nor were they divided into separate tools, channels and functions. Their focus was not on omnichannel, but on creating a cohesive, universal and personalised brand experience, becoming a fluid and transversal businesses, and moving ahead to omnipresence and seamless commerce.

“The sooner we drop the ‘e’ out of ‘e-commerce’ and just call it commerce, the better,” Bob Willett, Chief Information Officer, Best Buy