Online or in-store – there's no such thing as a channel

It is a genuinely exciting time to be in retail. And while much as been written about how drastically consumer shopping patterns have evolved in recent years (with consumers shopping and buying in brand new ways seemingly every day) the seed of this change – the “electronic commerce” component separating physical goods from a physical market – took root nearly two decades ago. Since that time, eCommerce has systematically grown to become the great leveller.

Regardless of a retailer’s size, budget, or inventory, a cleverly designed (and well-executed) eCommerce strategy has long-provided the opportunity for any brand to get in front of consumers – where they live – with just as much regularity and influence as the most powerful and well-known brands in the world. The results have been staggering. But today, as’s march toward complete online dominance continues, retailers of all types are being faced with new and unique challenges: the largest fear encroachment from Amazon. The smallest face decisions about whether it is better to assimilate (at a cost) or fight on.

And as Amazon tinkers with ideas to merge into physical shopping points, more questions than answers about the future of commerce emerge. As a result, successful eCommerce is effectively being forced to become something else. And the results of our just-released eCommerce Report show that retailers already have a cognizant understanding of what that something will have to be: a combination of online and in-store that render the online pure-play model an at-risk species.

In essence, retailers know they have to enable customers to live out their paths to purchase the way they already do: the difference is, they need these pre-shopping/shopping/and buying behaviours to be carried out under one brand – their brand – instead of the many consumers use today.

And not just online

In fact, our respondents tell us that eCommerce also has the potential to become the store’s salvation, too. For the past several years now, our Store Report respondents have readily admitted that the store is in vital need of a technological transformation. Where “websites” once needed to be as exciting as stores, stores are now in desperate need of being as exciting as the online experience. What’s fascinating is how reticent retailers who operate stores have been to invest in store-based technologies; the fear of rolling out a technology that only briefly holds the consumer’s interest becomes exponentially greater when the chain “store multiplier” comes into effect. Indeed, they’ve been particularly stubborn to replace in-store POS systems – by far the greatest tech investment in stores. Has the time for an eCommerce platform’s ability to scale beyond the online channel come?

We invite you to read the full report to find out!

This article originally appeared on the RSR Research website. It is reproduced with the organisation's permission.