I saw this great article on the End of E-commerce. I wanted to give my opinion on this as well as it is something I get to spend a lot of time thinking about, although in a very different way. It isn’t really the end of e-commerce but the end of silos that needs to take place in retail.
Having cut my teeth in start ups during the dotcom era, I heard all kinds of comments about how e-commerce was going to kill the malls. Well, most malls are still around. In fact the one near my house got even bigger since the dotcom era. The net did not kill physical stores, if anything, they made them more relevant. I remember during the dotcom era, I was into the way under reported movement of cross commerce. That was, taking the elements of the net and brining them into the retail space. We knew the technology was not there but it would be in about 10-15 years, aka, right now.
When I look at retail today, I see tablets and phones that bring the web right into the store location. What is an online sale and what is an in-store, there is almost no different now. People do research online and buy in-stores and vice versa. What smart retailers get is that you can’t have separate groups anymore, one handling the stores and the other handling online. These are one in the eyes of consumers.
Think about it, when you shop at Walmart or Target, you don’t think, “gee, I’m dealing with the online team now, I should think differently about my consumer experience and realize it is not like the stores.” Nobody thinks that way. They see Target and think; it should be the same as the stores, same products and same brand promise.
For some retailers, this concept is revolutionary, but for the consumer, it is evolutionary. The best companies in the near future are going to be the ones that are able to bridge all their channels in a seamless experience, both front and back. And to be honest, nobody has done that to a truly evolutionary level.