E-commerce continues to be act as the vanguard of the retail industry judging by those exhibiting and presenting at the E-commerce Expo
E-Commerce Expo, which is now in its seventh year, attracted vendors and retailers alike to London's Olympia to find out about the latest technology innovations and products in the online shopping space.
But where, in the past, the focus may have been on e-commerce as an emerging standalone channel, this year's event focused firmly on its developing role as part of broader multichannel retail models.
The e-commerce global store, hosted by international online marketplace Fruugo
, was just one of the highlights at the show that demonstrated how the distinction between the online and physical worlds is blurring and how mobile will be the key for retailers to capitalise on this trend and grow their businesses both off and online.
Technology to support shopping journey
"Retailers need to educate customers that they can not only browse and research, but also buy instore on their mobile," Glen Richardson, Fruugo chief marketing officer, told attendees during a panel discussion on the future of the High Street.
"Consumers are also quite happy to give their personal information online in return for more personalised service or offers, and both pureplay and multichannel retailers can use this data to drive loyalty."
The global e-commerce store, for example, featured augmented reality app Blippar
to enable customers to buy or access more information on its display products, while location-based advertising served up by TAPTAP
was used to incentivise shoppers to view broader product ranges online than are available instore with special offers.
"I believe it will be the pureplay e-retailers that are showing us what the store of the future will look like," added Richardson.
Ultimately, while retailers are still grappling with such multichannel integration, the consensus was that the consumer is still leading the way with their omnichannel expectations of retail brands and experiences.
Google analyses end-to-end clicks
But Martijn Bertisen, Google UK
senior head of retail, agreed mobile could be transformative in terms of bridging that gap. "I believe the future is in wearable devices because, with a mobile phone, you still have to take it out to use it. The likes of the watch Samsung just released or Google Glass will change the way we connect the physical and digital."
To this end, Bertisen stated that data showing the end-to-end process of cross-device shopping journeys, for instance starting on a mobile for research and ending on a desktop PC for purchase or vice versa, would soon be available with Google Analytics.
Rosie Aikenhead, business outreach manager for online directory and reviews provider Yelp
, added that a number of pureplay e-retailers, like Oak Furniture Land
, have shown the way for e-commerce models to grow successful multichannel businesses. "Even the recent tie up between Argos and eBay shows how the lines between channels are blurring.