The National Retail Federation’s survey found that for the first time online shoppers (103 million online shoppers) in the US exceeded those that shopped in stores (102 million in store retail shoppers) on Thanksgiving weekend. Black Friday is the term colloquially used for the day after the Thanksgiving holiday that kicks off the holiday season, and for many retailers it has been the time in the year when their books go black (profitable). Online shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday jumped 14% from the year before for a total spend of $4.5Billion by American consumers. On the other hand, in-store shopping declined on a year on year basis.
For those who have not seen it – all categories are now shopped online. Ecommerce is not just here to stay but will be the dominant model of shopping. More interestingly, 50% of the online shopping was done through mobile devices. What does that mean for retailers? Retailers need to invest in four areas to be successful for the future:
- Ecommerce: Investing in a powerful, integrated ecommerce systems is the item with the highest ROI for retailers. It is important that an ecommerce platform provides an engaging experience as well as promotes repeat buying. This means a shopping experience that is effortless, offers efficient shipments, and has an appealing interface that is mobile-optimized.
- Mobility: I predict that in 2016 ecommerce through mobile devices (tablets, phones) will outstrip traditional computing devices such as PCs and laptops. Ensure your ecommerce platform is mobile optimized like the eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics platform is.
- Omni-channel systems: The retailers that can traverse channels seamlessly will be the ones that are successful. This means a customer should be able to buy in a store and see and redeem their earned points online. Or that a cashier can pull up a customer’s profile and see both their online orders as well as retail store orders from their in-store Point of Sale device. There are several other omni-channel scenarios, but ensuring your online and brick-and-mortar systems are integrated at virtually every touch point for loyalty, customer profile, transaction history, pricing and promotions is absolutely critical for success.
The eCommerce for Microsoft Dynamics platform is a good example of you can have powerful merchandising functionality fully integrated with an inventory, financial management and warehouse system like Microsoft Dynamics AX. The example below shows two screen shots. The first is product information for the iPhone 8GB phone on Microsoft Dynamics AX, which is automatically published online to the Gadgets store. This includes images, product content, related products and real-time inventory information. This kind of seamless integration allows for a richer customer experience and higher repeat buying.
Figure: Omni-channel integration between an ERP and ecommerce system drivers a better customer experience and higher revenues.
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Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.