The end of online shopping explained in five trends - Information portal

The end of online shopping explained in five trends

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26.01.2018 Количество просмотров 547 views

Twijnandjongen_7[1].jpghe retail sector is experiencing unprecedented changes. To understand what is happening, we need to recognise a wider pattern of transformation. Offline and online will become one.

The Italian philosopher Luciano Floridi invented a phrase for this: onlife. When consumers can have a seamless shopping journey from offline to online and back, buying goods and services online and instore, that is when the end of online shopping is near. Are you ready for it? - asks Wijnand Jongen, is one of world’s foremost authors, speakers and futurists on retail and e-commerce.

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Wijnand Jongen (1959) is one of world’s foremost authors, speakers and publicists on the future of retail and e-commerce. He is the author of the book ‘The End of Online Shopping; the future of retail in a world that is always connected’. Wijnand Jongen is founder and CEO of the Dutch e-commerce association Thuiswinkel.org and since its founding in 2012 Chairman of the Executive Committee of the European e-commerce association Ecommerce Europe.

In 2017 the book was amongst the top 3 of best Marketing books of the year and nominated as Managementbook of the year.

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Trend 1: Offline + online = onlife

The blurring of boundaries are what make everyday life an onlife experience. The onlification of society hugely impacts the way we shop. Retail is being transformed.

The retail and service sector will be swallowed up by what I like to call onlife retail, a new economic order. Traditional businesses will become places of inspiration and experience. Web stores will have to become shopping environments that add value to the daily life of consumers. It is interactive technology that will bring online and offline retail together in the coming years. So-called all-in-one apps are the epitome of onlife retail. The Chinese super app WeChat for one, which already allows you to sort practically anything you want: finding and booking a vacation, to splitting the check at a restaurant, making an appointment with your hair stylist, or writing online reviews. Apps like this blends online and offline together in almost all aspects of everyday life for onlife consumers. What more could they want?

Trend 2: Online retailers want to be bricks-and-clicks

A myriad of stores, ranging from pop-up to flagship to shop-in-shop to showrooms with pick-up points. The physical store is having a revival, or so it seems. Don’t be fooled though: it does not mean that all the empty storefronts are fast becoming a relic – far from it. Many of the new store types are flexible and moveable, not permanent.

With onlife shopping journeys on the rise, online merchants are experimenting with the benefits that a physical presence brings to their customers. For onlife consumers, experience is key to shopping. Online retailers are taking notice of this, when introducing new retail concepts.

For webstores, a physical presence is the way to win the preference and build on the loyalty of onlife consumers. After all, winning the hearts and loyalty of consumers is still very much at the core of retail, now and tomorrow.

Trend 3: diversification is the name of the game

Bravely expanding the reach of your business through diversifying and mixing it up is a wise move in today’s world. Regardless of whether retailers and service providers like what’s happening, the market is forcing them to embrace diversification.

Bricks-and-clicks stores have been playing this game for ages, with online retailers now hot on their heels. eBay was one of the first to do so, Amazon may have started as an online bookseller, then morphed into an everything store, with an almost infinite array of goods. Alibaba has always sold an endless range of goods and services. Large retailers and chain stores have to keep up with what is the new normal, based on online customer expectations. Small and midsized retailers are opening or transforming themselves into niche stores, concept stores, mono-stores, village stores and the like in an attempt to stay relevant for their customers.

Diversification becoming commonplace often catches established and traditional retail business off guard. New market entrants swiftly see and grab opportunities – in unexpected or unoccupied niches in the market. Faced with losing money on transactions to Alibaba’s Alipay, the second largest government bank in China, ICBC, created its own marketplace to sell items to consumers directly. Diversifying is a way to survive in the onlife world of retail and definitely a way to keep those savvy onlife consumers happy and loyal.

Trend 4: channels flowing into one

In years to come, the old-school retail distinction between B2C and B2B will vanish completely. Even now, retailers have shifted focus to include businesses and consumers. In exactly the same way, businesses have widened their outlook, too.

Slowly but surely, businesses that preferred selling exclusively to other businesses are now testing the waters and shifting focus to the consumer market. Large brands and wholesalers alike are also making this transition. Producers have started selling merchandise directly to consumers – albeit with the handbrake on, fearful of disrupting traditional distribution channels. Adidas, Miele, Nike, Philips and Sony have broken new ground and now sell their wares to consumers directly. They are asking themselves if there really is a good reason not to sell directly to consumers and have a direct relationship with their end-users?

Consumers selling to consumers (C2C) became mainstream ages ago. Now, prosumers sell their goods and services to businesses. Thanks to 3D printing, consumers and small businesses are able to create products of their very own, at home and through open software and sell them on platforms and marketplaces.

Interestingly, B2C and B2B businesses have now jumped on the bandwagon of platforms and marketplaces. They have discovered these sales channels to be highly profitable, for example of getting rid of surplus items, offloading batches of outdated goods or experimenting with new products and services.

Why would you need all those old-fashioned separate channels? The answer is: you don’t. Chinese e-commerce superpower Alibaba doesn’t think so, at least. If you really wanted to fit this new retail world into a model, it would be what I call a B2B2C2C2B model. In other words, the channels have all flowed together to become one. It is just the beginning, a sneak preview if you will, of what the retail world will look like in a few years’ time. Or maybe even sooner than that?

Trend 5: Retailers who tick all the boxes in the value chain

In onlife retail, many companies will have to adopt new roles. Often, they used to be played by other participants in the retail value chain. Tech retail giants have a proven track record of bringing retail, technology, logistics and services together. These separate roles used to be filled and executed by specialized companies. This trend explains why we are so very near the end of online shopping.

For retailers the many new roles and tasks to assume seem almost endless. The new sharing and circular economy alone will provide retailers with new concepts that will either broaden or specialise their own business case.

Amazon, Alibaba and their peers have assumed all sorts of roles within the value chain by selling unlimited products and services in their web stores and on their platform and providing third-parties to sell their products and services on their platforms and marketplaces. They offer a full range of fulfilment services, including storage, order picking and packaging goods – including for other retailers. In the process, they provide logistical support and services, enable webhosting in the cloud, payment services, and more. These tech retail giants take on every conceivable role in the retail value chain. In doing so, they are turning the traditional retail value chain upside down.

Roles are changing swiftly, and almost every participant in the retail chain needs to be flexible as to which roles they play. It is not a case of exchanging one role for the other. Instead, it means being comfortable in one, a few or a whole variety of new roles. It is the only option if you want be a player in the retail game of the future.

Cover 1 3D of THE END OF ONLINE SHOPPING.jpg


This article is adapted from the first chapter of my book:
‘The end of online shopping. The future of retail in an always connected world’, published by Business Contact (Dutch/Flemish editions), Nubiz (English edition) and Post & Telecom Publishers, Beijing (Chinese edition, from Q1 2018). Translations of the book in other languages are scheduled for 2018 and 2019


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