Integrated Shopping Is the Future of Retail

Retailers that combine bricks-and-mortar stores with online and mobile sales will find success reaching and engaging customers.

If retailing isn’t undergoing a revolution, it’s at the very least in the midst of swift evolution. E-commerce is likely to make up about one-fifth of all nonfood sales by the end of the decade, up from just 14% last year. Online sales made up about $300 billion last year, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. But it’s getting harder and harder to classify a sale as exclusively online or bricks-and-mortar only. Further integration of online and in-store sales in coming years, as retailers try to reach customers where and when they want to shop, will further blur the distinction.

The implications are huge for all involved, from retailers themselves to their suppliers, shippers, employees and customers, plus landlords and others. The new norm will likely be a multichannel shopping experience for consumers. Consider, for example, a purchase researched online, customized and ordered on a tablet at the store, with a salesperson’s help, and then delivered to your home the next day. By 2016, half of all consumer purchases will incorporate some online or mobile component, whether it’s comparison shopping, ordering, customizing or paying, according to Forrester Research. Already, 65% of consumers have done some online shopping, and that rate will likely continue to rise as the line between online and in-store becomes more obscure.

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Karen Mracek
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter