3 Crosschannel Trends You Have to Know in 2013

Five short years ago, brick-and-mortar stores were pumping away quite solidly. Sure, they were feeling some of the changes that ecommerce and a little mobile shopping brought on, but it was hardly the explosion that we are seeing today.

Here we take a look at three trends retailers should be aware of, along with the key takeaways to help them keep their heads above water.

In-store experiences are changing, not disappearing

Consumers have been migrating to mobile at a faster rate every year, but that’s not to say that brick-and-mortar is somehow obsolete—to the contrary, in-store experiences provide consumers with an opportunity to experience products that they already have a bias towards. More than 40% of consumers say they “showroom,” or check out items in-store before purchasing them online, highlighting the importance of in-store retailing to online purchasing.

Key Takeaway: Since in-store experiences are changing but not disappearing, think showrooms instead of traditional stores. Well-trained associates are critical to the experience. The trend of physical locations for “pure-play” Internet retailers such as Warby Parker and Bonobos underscores the importance for retailers to provide customers with opportunities to interact with products. The key is to integrate online and offline strategies to secure the sale.

The online sleeping giant is awakening

Growth is good—but “growth” alone doesn’t show the full picture. Consider these data points:

All ecommerce product categories showed strong (10% or higher) growth in second quarter 2012.

Shop.org, NRF’s digital division, expects online sales in 2013 to grow another 9% to 12%. And web retailers saw growth of 28% in 2012 over 2011.

Key Takeaway: Taken out of context, retailers might cry “full steam ahead” on online strategies and wrongly starve their brick-and-mortar channels. Learn from traditional retailers like Nordstrom Rack that are using mobile registers and closing sales quickly. Multichannel retailers are using new dashboard-like technologies to bring online and offline data together.

Being able to see their entire business in one place – fulfillment, stock, online purchases vs. in-store returns, point-of-sale purchases compared to online cart abandonment, and more—is helping retailers make more profitable decisions.

Mobile retail is growing at different rates for each device

A computer, a tablet, and a smartphone walked into a bar…and went to sit at completely different tables. The truth is, ecommerce is growing at different rates on each device, and sales made from tablets are growing more quickly.

According to research from Oracle, consumers are almost twice as likely to make a purchase on a tablet device than on a smartphone. Another report from Shop.org found that retailers on average experienced a 129% lift in year-over-year sales (2011 – 2012) from smartphones and a 178% lift from tablets.

Key Takeaway: If you have not already invested in a significant mobile user experience, then it’s time for a second quarter budget update. Though smartphones are important, put priority on tablet usage.

Technology is moving fast—and retailers, perhaps more than any other industry, would do well to match its stride.

Steve Wellen is COO of Domo.