Digital Shift in Plain Sight at Shop.org Conference
It's no surprise that the majority of cross-channel retailers are focusing their attention online when analyzing the future growth of their companies. Consumers spent $165.4 billion online last year, an increase of 14.8 percent compared to 2009, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept. While certainly eye-catching numbers, that $165.4 billion accounted for less than 5 percent (4.2 percent to be exact) of total retail spending. So you can see why there's such excitement over the future of the e-commerce space — retailers have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the medium.
After spending last week at the National Retail Federation's Shop.org Annual Summit in Boston, this fact became even more evident to me. From Charming Shoppes' Bill Bass’ keynote speech cautioning the audience to take a long, hard look before signing any long-term store lease agreements to Columbia Sportswear's Mick McCormick discussing how digital innovation has transformed the company, the message was clear: while brick-and-mortar stores still will be part of the mix for the foreseeable future, the money is in digital.
What digital means for consumers is still to be determined — there was healthy debate at the show regarding the value of QR codes, for example — but there's no denying its impact on the retail landscape. Making the in-store experience more digital — just about everyone at the show had their smartphone out at nearly every break — appears to be an area retailers with strong roots in retail stores could leverage to their advantage.
The exhibit hall was packed with vendors touting the latest mobile technologies, social commerce platforms, e-commerce video solutions and more. But with just 5 percent of retail sales (albeit this number is growing year-over-year and doesn't look to be slowing down anytime soon) coming from e-commerce sites — and considerably less via mobile and social platforms — do retailers have their priorities straight?