E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe but will it ever replace old fashioned high street shopping?
In 2013, online retailing in Europe grew by 21.1% which meant that the total amount of online sales reached £111.2 billion*, but 90% of shoppers in the UK still choose high street stores over online shopping. If Ecommerce sales are to ever take over or break even with sales made in high-street shops, how will it need to change?
We think that it could change in a number of ways, firstly by improving on areas that it lacks in comparison to in-store shopping and secondly by offering services that are only able to be provided online.
1. Ways that Ecommerce can become more like a physical store:
- By adapting a more personal and humanlike approach
When walking into your favourite shop, you’d expect to be greeted by smiley assistants, trained in welcoming and making themselves approachable to customers for help and advice. Online shops have gone as far as making their customers sign up, so that when they return it can welcome you with a personalised “hello (name)” but there is not that in-store conversation, help and advice that you get from human interaction. To improve its customer service, websites need to store more customer information to be able to provide well-suited help and advice to meet the customer’s tastes. In the case of clothing, user-submitted data from previous internet sessions to do with preferences, sizes, tastes and styles should be saved for the site to use along with current trends to recommend and make suited suggestions.
- Creating a 360 degree view of the shop
The overall “feeling” and “image” of a brand that companies pay so much to create is generated from a combination of factors inside the shop: its layout, music, workers’ uniform, even the smell of a shop, lighting and what the walls are made from. Online, a brand’s image is reflected in the web design, choice of photos and wording but in the future this brand presence will need to be adapted. According to Eric Koester, founder of Main Street Genome, who supply tools and technologies for business, it takes 6-10 touches before a customer buys from a brand online, these touches can include experiencing it on a mobile, on the web, physically and in the media. Koester states that customers “may first be referred to the brand and then will explore on their mobile/tablet before discovering further on the net …the customer needs a 360 degree view of the brand before they make a purchase” much like a 360 degree view of a physical shop. So brands will need to build more trust with their consumers by expanding their online presence across a multiple of platforms.
- Trying on and trying out
Probably the most common reason consumers buy from physical stores over online shops is in order to properly see, feel and try a product before purchase, a problem difficult to overcome online but a situation that can be easily improved. The replacement of photos with video will enable a better idea of the product’s use and appearance which will be enhanced as video quality improves.
2. Ways that Ecommerce can offer more than a high street shop:
- Personalised shopping
Custom-made shopping will allow consumers to design their own products online. This is already gradually making its way in with companies such as Nike, Design my Dress and Modify Watches who allow their customers to design their own trainers/ dresses and build their own watches. Individual customer design can work with a number of products, until a point is reached where no product resembles another.
- 3D printing
Watch 3D printing videos on youtube to see how it is taking off with the production of pens, figurines, fruit and guns. The future of buying from your bedroom will involve purchasing the materials, designing online and printing for immediate use. Obviously, this won’t be able to work with all products but with items such as clothes, printing could work very well. Consumers will choose the fabric online which will be sent to their door and loaded in their printer. They’ll then choose their template and measurements and press “print” to have their personally designed product ready to wear straight away.
We at Pople are incredibly excited about the progression of Ecommerce and are looking forward to working with its developments.
Check out our work of E-commerce sites that we've designed.
*Statistics from Centre of Retail Research
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