After more than a decade of sitting on the sidelines, I heard from a friend who came out of retirement to take on a part-time job at a new-ish retail store that’s part of the brand portfolio of a major, global company. Her first week of work, and her tales of being back among the working world, confirms a suspicion that started, for me as a contrarian thought, but now seems to be a valid prophecy. One of the major goals of this brand’s digital strategy—perhaps its biggest aspiration—is to get you to come into their store. While digital is a major element of its marketing strategy, my take is e-commerce is a transparent and continuous part of what I observe to be this retailer’s truly converged strategy.
To be specific, the retailer boasts a luminous website with brilliant images and concise descriptions of its wares. While they are obviously more than okay with you clicking to buy, the content marketing approach in the web catalog is aimed at getting you to find the store nearest you and interacting with staff that are expertly trained to upsell. In fact, the retailer wants its customers to walk out their door with no less than three items per visit. Anyone who follows the evolution of digital commerce experiences will agree that one of the biggest challenges is to replicate the finesse required in a face to face sales upsell.
The store boasts web-based kiosks to let out of town shoppers order products that might not be in stock or not available in the appropriate size. Want it shipped to your home—sure. Want it shipped to the store near your home—even better. This carefully woven fabric of continuous commerce points to a future state that replicates a media trend that began decades ago with the dawn of CompuServe, AOL and other relics of the online space—convergence. Convergence is one of those “call it whatever you want it” overhyped, semi urban myths that represents a coordination or uniformity of distinct technology, forces of behaviors. If I’m a betting man, my hunch is commerce may get to convergence long before media reaches such nirvana.
Certainly, a blog post is only suitable to start the ball rolling on reflecting on the power of commerce convergence. Such a school of thought should include the digital marketer’s perceptive on the strategy of developing and executing a highly transplant, ubiquitous experience as well as the view though the shopper’s lens which is based on a frictionless journey in which a buying opportunity morphs to suit time, place, personal preferences and technology.
Lastly, I am a big fan of the social aspect of shopping and how it may start with a Facebook Like but also must include physical retail contact with trained staff and in-store technology. As someone who owned a retail business, taking a page from the playbook of e-commerce champions—such as minimizing infrastructure costs– can be a vital part of a successful bricks and mortar channel. I subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of business, but in the case of commerce, we’re in a period of building, so breaking the rules is not only permissible, it’s a good idea. Think about how convergence will affect your commerce plans and break a few rules while you’re at it.