Jon Reily holds the coveted position of VP of Commerce Strategy for Razorfish, a digital marketing agency in business for over two decades now. They help businesses deal with the changing landscape of modern sales. Jon himself is a former Amazonian and has amazing insight into the global eCommerce trends spanning startup to Fortune 100, trends you need to know about if you want to survive the changing landscape.
Following The Path of Consumers
For me, understanding the consumer's path is illuminating. There are too many brands, stores, and companies trying too hard to combat shopper behavior, and manipulate it or reroute it, but that is an old school approach that is on it's way out. What we are seeing now is that the most successful companies are putting the customer first and building a mission of giving them what they want with systems, products, stores and most importantly value. As Tony Robbins says, "Manipulation is out, but adding value is always in."
All of this wrapped up with clarity of message and transparency of culture is the sum of the new school approach for global eCommerce. Each piece is necessary to your survival in business.
Both Jon and Razorfish have a message I love. They refer to themselves as "customer obsessed" and even call this shift in eCommerce "the age of the customer."
"Everything we do is centered on the belief that, in a constantly changing market filled with the explosion of technology and data, customers have the power. A new way of doing business is now required. We call this customer obsessed business transformation."
The Future of eCommerce Is Here
The problem is that a lot of businesses weren't/aren't ready for the switch. This is part of the reason I talk so much about innovation. If you lose sight of the future, you get stuck in the past. Target, oh Target... As much as I hate to admit this, because I love Target, right now they are stuck in the past. After floundering with several CEO's over the past 5-years, failed eCommerce efforts- on Black Friday no less, and a Canada flop heard 'round the world, Target's strategies to innovate were overshadowed by their battle to stay relevant.
They didn't foresee the customers expectations shifting to not wanting to be in store (let's be honest, we never wanted to be in the store, we just didn't always have that option) and rather than innovating early on to create new avenues, omni channels, that really worked for their customers to get the products they wanted with the least amount of resistance, they have been combative. Their goal of getting people in the store remains, and it is killing them...which is equivalent to kicking and screaming, while change happens around them anyway.
Innovation Is Unique To Each Brand
Take a look at Kohl's who, as Jon points out, shouldn't work as well as it does, but it does, which means they "knew their client, anticipated what their clients needs would be, and handed it to them by way of an app, an in-store cash rewards program, and easy pick-up." With 35% of Kohl's onlines sales being made in store, and 18 million app users, it's clear that this strategy works for them.
Changing Customer Expectations
A huge part of innovating into the future of eCommerce is understanding what customers want, (in-store vs online) which has also drastically changed. Whereas, in previous generations, the focus was mainly on quality for the price, that focus has shifted to consciousness of source and brand impression. Shoppers used to have to be incredibly resourceful, but the market has expanded, and now that isn't really the case so awareness has become a lasting trend.
Old School: What is it? How much does it cost? Where can I get it?
New School: How was it sourced? What is the designer's back-story? Who else uses it?
eCommerce is changing. You can innovate or you can get there kicking and screaming the entire way (not recommended). In the meantime, we'll just be over here in the corner playing drinking games with buzzwords like omni-channel... just kidding, we've got work to do.