SAG_Twitter_MEME_Retail_2017_Jan17.jpgIn 2017, you won’t need to have a remote control in order to channel hop; because retailers are moving quickly to connect into new channels that will engage with you.

New channels last year included Pokemon Go, Pinterest Purchase Pins and Instagram Shoppable tags appearing as new ways for retailers to engage with customers.  No one saw these coming on New Year’s Day, 2016, and there may be plenty of surprises this year too.  

And, while mobile apps are not going away as a channel, Gartner predicts that, by 2019, 20% of brands will abandon their apps. So where to next?

Retailers are already exploring “conversational commerce” with channels such as Amazon Echo, or Bots in Facebook Messenger. Conversational commerce has also pulled in Google, which recently launched a developer platform where third parties can build chatbots to interact with its Google Assistant. The idea is that people will interact with businesses via Google Assistant with simple questions and eventually Google hopes that users will start purchasing goods and booking reservations with the new chatbots. Microsoft has also embarked on a bot program earlier this year and has expanded the framework to take on a multi-channel strategy.

Amazon clearly has the lead here, being a direct sales channel. The Motley Fool said: “There's not much Google or Facebook can do to get around their reliance on third parties to build bots for their platforms. Unfortunately for them, one competitor [Amazon] doesn't have to rely on third parties if it wants to sell goods and services.”

Already this year Shopify – a cloud­based, multi­channel commerce platform has added the Amazon sales channel. This integration allows Shopify store owners to connect to customers searching for products on Amazon.

Although chatbots and new channels attract a lot of interest from retailers, few of them are ready to take advantage. Forrester noted that 56% of retailers consider increasing revenue from sales channels to be of high or critical importance, yet only 28% of retailers consider themselves able to deliver on this.

And just adding a “buy button” to a new social media site may not be the answer. Venture Beat said: “Without the strategies underpinning how you connect with your consumers, optimize social selling across all your channels, and leverage social media analytics, your social commerce efforts will be for naught.”

In order to grab hold of customers and capitalize the benefit through new channels, successful retailers have to quickly adapt and connect to them. Most importantly, retailers must be able orchestrate across systems in order to be able to fulfil the customer promise made through the new channel.

Then, as customers channel-hop, retailers can be assured that their brand, products and fulfilment live up to expectations.


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