Sourcing Journal – The borders of the retail landscape are blurring more than ever. Moving from a company’s brick-and-mortar store to its online marketplace to its Instagram page, today’s consumers expect a seamless, unshackled experience that allows them to browse, buy, and receive their goods not just whenever but wherever, as well.
Slowly but surely, the world of commerce is beginning to catch on to this multichannel approach. Increasingly, retailers are working toward offering consumers the ability to continue their shopping journey across channels. According to a new report by Boston Retail Partners (BRP), a retail management consulting firm based in Massachusetts, of the 500 top retailers in North America the company polled, half are planning to offer this “start anywhere, finish anywhere” capability within five years, up from 3 percent today.
Indeed the push to unify online and offline channels has already begun: Roughly 27 percent of respondents have implemented the ability to “buy anywhere, ship anywhere,” up from 16 percent last year, BRP said.
Time, increasingly commodified, is equally of the essence. With customers demanding the same instant gratification they get from shopping at a physical store, retailers are looking to mix and match various delivery options to compete with the rapid turnarounds of services such as Amazon Prime and Google Express.
The result is a patchwork of more than half-a-dozen choices, including in-store pickup, reserve/hold in store, curbside pickup, locker pickup, same-day delivery, delivery via a third-party service such as Uber, and even drone delivery.
The burgeoning ranks of online shoppers has led to a corresponding uptick in retailers offering same-day delivery—51 percent of retailers now include it, up from 16 percent last year, BRP said.
Expediting shipments to online customers could provide an additional bulwark against Amazon’s creeping market share. It might even help transition the phenomenon of “showrooming”—that is, when shoppers browse products in physical stores, then buy them from e-tailers like Amazon for less—from an obstacle to a feature.
“Same-day delivery will become the norm within the next few years,” BRP wrote in the 2017 Digital Commerce Survey. “Buy online, pick-up in the store (BOPIS) is really just an interim step as retailers work towards the ideal of same-day delivery to compete against the Amazon model. Enterprising retailers understand that this can enable the storefront to operate more like a showroom and change how retailers and customers view the traditional store.”
Similarly, consumers want to be spoiled for choice when it comes to returns. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they allow shoppers to buy an item in one store and return it to another, or return something they purchased online at a physical location.
Read full article: BRP: Agility, Innovation Key to Making Multichannel Work