E-Commerce and the Apparel Retail World

E-commerce has forever changed the way consumers shop. Sixty-nine percent of Americans shop online regularly, according to a 2015 online shopping report from market intelligence agency Mintel. However, if you broaden the definition of e-commerce to include using the internet for researching products and services before purchasing, that number jumps to 81 percent, according to Retail Today. E-commerce has significantly changed the way we shop, but what does this shift toward digital shopping mean for offline retailers?

Victims of E-Commerce

As e-commerce grows, it may seem that offline retailers are fighting a losing battle. Shopping malls may seem like casualties of e-commerce, with more than two dozen closing since 2010 and another 60 in danger of shutting their doors. However, to suggest that e-commerce caused their closure may be too simplistic. Forbes reports that successful malls offer shoppers an experience. Because of this, high-end malls are doing well, while those in the middle of the market are struggling. Besides, online sales still only account for less than 8 percent of all retail sales in the United States.

Customer service is one area where committed offline retailers can always excel. While online stores may pride themselves on telephone and instant message support, customers must reach out to receive it. It's possible to make an online transaction without ever interacting with another human being at all. In contrast, offline stores that make customer service a priority can make a real impression with consumers, turning occasional shoppers into loyal brand advocates. This is likely why high-end malls are thriving.

Like all businesses, offline retailers who do not embrace the online world are likely to get left behind. But third party logistics services like The Apparel Logistics Group are adept at handling e-commerce orders and inquiries for their apparel retail and manufacturing clients so that those clients can concentrate on providing in-person service. This gives consumers who shop with these clients more choice about the way they do their shopping.

E-Commerce Leads to Multichannel Shopping

E-commerce has seen the rise of multichannel shopping. This new style of shopping is all about choice. Customers can now choose how to research products and services, then how to purchase them, receive them, and obtain after-sales service. Often, customers will choose a variety of channels throughout their purchase journey. For example, they might research a product on their phone, purchase it later that night on their laptop, choose to collect it at an offline store to avoid fees, and troubleshoot issues with it later via the company's social media page accessed via a tablet.

The Future of E-Commerce

E-commerce software group BigCommerce suggests that the gap between the online and offline shopping worlds will narrow even further in the future. Its co-chief executives, Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper, predict that by 2022 offline stores will serve only as showrooms where consumers can touch and try on sample products, then have them delivered to their homes later.

Spencer Spinelli, Google's Director of Emerging Media, adds that adoption of near field communication initiatives will also increase. These will make offline shopping more high-tech, allowing customers to tap a phone to provide payment details, exchange and surrender discount coupons, and receive loyalty program benefits.

No one's quite sure exactly how the future of shopping will look, but it's clear that offline apparel retailers who adapt to embrace technology stand a strong chance of survival. As the line between physical and virtual shopping continues to blur, businesses must be certain that their respective infrastructures are also evolving to embrace this new world. Third-party infrastructure services from a company like TALG can help customers who want to be able to support multiple commerce channels.

Posted: 8/17/2016 11:19:40 AM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments

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