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From Clicks to Bricks, How E-Commerce is Influencing Retail
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From Clicks to Bricks, How E-Commerce is Influencing Retail

The line between browsing and buying online and offline is blurring as technology enables nearly everything to become a digital touch point for consumers.

A wall suddenly becomes a virtual store and brands can create apps that provide personalized recommendations for what to buy in-store.

“E-commerce is not just a channel, it’s a window that enables you to shop anywhere,” Unilever executive Doug Straton said at Nielsen’s Consumer 360 conference during a session on e-commerce.

E-commerce is experiencing high growth, but research shows that consumer behavior on this channel is both interesting and unusual compared to offline shopping behavior. Combined with the fact that the path from purchase to discovery is becoming more complex, it becomes imperative for companies to have a complete understanding of their consumer to drive growth.

The e-commerce panel session on Tuesday included Straton, team lead, North American eCommerce Center of Excellence, Unilever North America; Steve Carlotti, CEO, The Cambridge Group; Kelly Breitenbecher, Petco’s SVP, merchandise operations; and Steve Matthesen, EVP, Nielsen.

The group discussed challenges retailers and manufacturers currently face in the industry, according to Nielsen’s Digital Shopping Global Survey for Q2 2013 — and presented some solutions.

Challenge: Price is the No. 1 driver for online purchases.

Solution: Create an integrated multi-channel execution that drives value to consumers and creates connections across multiple channels. In-store visits can become opportunities to drive re-purchase or incremental sales online.

Challenge: Ninety percent of retail site visitors are browsers, not buyers.

Solution: Understand how your customers are using each channel. Are they looking at the product in-store and buying online or vice versa? Create unique benefits for using each channel, whether it’s offering a high-end product online or delivering a personalized in-store shopping experience.

Challenge: Sixty percent of online trips include only one category.

Solution: To better understand your shopper’s behavior, combine your online data with retailer data and third-party data to get a complete view of your consumer. This will help your brand learn how to better communicate with consumers, and anticipate when they want to move directly to purchase and when they want to experience more about the brand.

The panelists shared three major e-commerce trends they see in the industry:

  • “Mobile is the glue,” Straton said. It’s used alongside in-store shopping, can become an extended shelf, and engage the millennial demographic.
  • “Millennials’ digital engagement will be much different from the Boomer generation, which has driven most of the digital purchases to date,” Carlotti said.
  • “Retailers need to create strong bonds across channels, create connections with consumers across multiple channels and throughout the purchase cycle,” Breitenbecher said.

E-commerce is quickly becoming crucial to growth because creating a relevant, integrated and engaging shopping experience means winning offline as well.

“That’s why e-commerce is a revolution, not an evolution,” Breitenbecher said.

For more insights into the consumer, click here.