Where to next for online retail and the Total Commerce approach

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Callum Campbell is CEO at Linnworks and today looks at where online retail will be going next and predicts that a Total Commerce approach is the only way forward. What is Total Commerce? Read on to find out more:

Where to next for online retail and the Total Commerce approachCallum was also a presenting partner at Tamebay Live in May, you can now rewatch his masterclass where he was joined by Cas Paton, CEO of OnBuy, and Nadia Barmada, Content & Growth, Strategist, Linnworks. The discussion centred around the future of marketplaces and why a Total Commerce approach to ecommerce will drive success, sales growth and help you scale up and capture more revenue opportunities in the new, effortless economy.

How a total commerce approach is essential in the new, effortless economy

Commerce is increasingly happening in multiple online environments, wherever consumers are spending their time. For example, social platforms being commerce enabled including an integrated checkout process, or shoppable video ads embedded into articles. Effortless commerce was already emerging as the next phase of online retail, but this accelerated over the past 12 months as shoppers were forced online, even for essentials. Consumer expectations to shop whenever and wherever they wanted to, combined with time-pushed buyers having less capacity to spend on the shopping journey, meant consumer choice has followed the path of least resistance.

Effortless consumption – or the growing expectation for convenient shopping experiences – was also a key finding in Linnworks recent survey of 1000 shoppers. The overriding takeaway from the research is that consumers want seamless, connected shopping experiences, and convenience is the main priority for most shoppers when choosing a retailer.

So what does this mean for retailers looking to grow, or even be competitive? It means that brands need to be everywhere their customers want to shop. At Linnworks we call this Total Commerce – the ability to be present in the many environments where your customers are. Delivering an omnichannel experience through your selling channels, and creating a frictionless experience so your customers can create a shopping journey based on their needs is the first step. For example, buying online and collecting in store, or offering a range of payment or shipping options at checkout.

But Total Commerce means staying fully connected to your customers, so taking your selling strategy one step further, to a complete multichannel retailing strategy where your brand is present in multiple commerce environments. This can include marketplaces, social commerce, and any other emerging selling platforms. Rather than expecting your customers to seek you out, you need to be present in the channels which they operate day to day. Facebook has coined the phrase ‘discovery commerce’ which is about connecting the right product to the right person, a reverse of the ecommerce trend for businesses to expect customers to actively search for them.

Effortless consumption and delivering Total Commerce presents two key challenges for retailers:

Firstly, staying connected to your customers by accessing multiple commerce environments simultaneously requires specialised capability and knowledge. You need to understand what your customers want in each of these channels and how to serve their needs. For example, a customer looking for your product on a marketplace may just want to find your product quickly for a frictionless repeat purchase, delivered as fast as possible, but may come to your website for a more involved brand experience or to be rewarded for their loyalty or for more complex delivery options. To understand and build the right customer experience and product mix for each selling channel requires a detailed level of understanding and constant analysis and optimisation of each channel.

Secondly, continuously adapting and controlling commerce in all of these environments simultaneously, is complex, costly and technically challenging. Being able to maintain and manage all of your selling channels with their individual logistical requirements is essential to maintaining overall control over your commerce operations. Running inventory management, order management and shipping operations efficiently is key to not only having the right product in the right place at the right time, but also to maintaining your customer experience and capturing every selling opportunity.

The key to successfully implementing Total Commerce is integrating your commerce technologies and multiple selling channels into a single selling and operations platform like Linnworks. Having full visibility and control by connecting your major carriers and fulfillment services, alongside your own technology stack will allow you to sync your operations across all selling channels. Automation of tasks across the logistics process, and complete visibility over business information is essential for demand planning and stock management to ensure maximum profitability.

The effortless economy and evolution of selling platforms offers a huge opportunity for brands and retailers to scale up and grow. To achieve this brands must commit to a Total Commerce approach both in your selling strategy and right across your operations.

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