I have spent my entire career in digital and mainly eCommerce. The reason I decided to focus on eCommerce is that I believe strongly in that the companies that can make buying easy will simply beat other companies. The most obvious way to do this is to offer easy online shopping 24/7/365 with great delivery and service.

I think the fallacy that companies make is that eCommerce is simply just online shopping when in reality it’s much much more. eCommerce is about making the shopping experience easier and better for the customer by using the Internet. This might mean mobile apps augmenting in-store experiences, buy online pick up in store, or a unified in-store and online rewards program. It can also simply be the value of having customers find your products online and then going to the store to buy.

Buy Online Pick Up In Store

What really made me amazed at the value of this was when my Mom who is very non-tech savvy was actually doing this consistently with Home Depot and Lowes to save time. The reality is walking through giant aisles and waiting in line to check out is not something anyone wants to do if they are busy and most folks will save time by quickly searching and buying online and then picking up in store. It’s also easier to compare pricing and optimize your cost buying online versus in store.

Major retailers like Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes have this figured out but it’s the smaller retailers that are way behind. This is critical for smaller companies to figure out or they will fall too far behind the big behemoths.

SEO Value & Branding

eCommerce will massively improve your SEO value because of all the product data on your website and the increased data Google will have about your business online. This can drastically improve in-store sales or just overall sales because more and more people will be finding you.

It’s also likely you can more easily promote your business via social media, email, and other digital means by sending them to eCommerce pages versus just a generic content website. This will improve branding and thus overall sales.

Rewards Programs

Having an online rewards program can be very powerful. Having an in-store and online rewards program that is unified is even better. Customers want to be rewarded for loyalty, but nothing is worse than feeling like your experience is disjointed between online and in store.

In Store Automation

In-store automation is technically not eCommerce but I am confident that eCommerce and in-store automation will be more and more merged over time. It’s no wonder that Amazon prime members get discounts at Whole Foods and can use their new retail locations.

In-Store Automation can leverage the same technology and data used in eCommerce such as unifying sales data to determine when to stock shelves or restock, offer promotions, and much much more. It’s also likely that automating checkout in store will be linked to your eCommerce store account or just one unified store account.

Data

Generating valuable data about your customers is critical to growing your business. eCommerce can provide you invaluable data that is hard to get or impossible from in-store shopping. This data can be used to help make decisions about your business that influence in-store or other types of buying experiences like B2B / phone sales etc.

Conclusion

The reality is that major eCommerce sites like Amazon are building stores faster than ever. This is a clear cut sign that an eCommerce first approach can actually pave the way for non-eCommerce sales. If you are not thinking about eCommerce its likely your competitors are. Now is the time to get ahead before it’s too late to catch up to competitors who leverage eCommerce to unify the buying experience.

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