By Adam Forrest, Director of Product Marketing

Discussions around order management and fulfillment have been hot topics over the past week, and it goes without saying that digital integrations to create a greater shopping experience are still very much at the top of retailers’ minds.

Here are some of the top items I read to help inspire new thoughts for you this week.

1. This is how we shop in the future

Summary: According to this article in The Verge, it is estimated that by the end of 2014, nearly 1/3 of all online shopping will be done on mobile devices. Enter Spring: a new mobile shopping app that offers users easy access to their favorite brands, with a “one click to buy” capability.

My thoughts: I have no doubt that we’ll see nearly 1/3 of all online shopping done through mobile devices by the end of this year. But what I’m more interested in seeing is how this will transform the shopping path. We’re already seeing the store become more of a transaction element and less of a shopping experience in its own right, with digital taking a much larger part of the shopping journey. Take a look at the mall, for example. Though revenue is typically staying the same, people are spending less time in the mall, and instead are using the destination as more of a pick-up/purchase point for an exact item they know they want. Showrooming won’t be the trend to watch this year; it will be webrooming, and how digital engagement impacts how, where and when a purchase is made.


2. QVC engages consumers post-sale with follow-up videos in email

Summary: In an effort to create greater consumer engagement, and deliver a seamless cross-channel experience, the home shopping network, QVC, kicked off a new email campaign to follow up with customers after a purchase. But this isn’t just a note to gather feedback; QVC is sharing videos that demonstrate different ways of using your purchase.

My thoughts: Digital is not only changing the shopping path, it’s also presenting new opportunities for retailers to engage with their customers post-purchase. QVC’s use of post-purchase videos is a fantastic example of what the future of customer service will look like. These videos not only offer guidance on how to get the most out of products just purchased, but it also presents a great opportunity for retailers to cross-promote corresponding products. And leveraging personalization techniques is a thoughtful approach for retailers to show they’re thinking of their customers and want to make their experience better by giving them the information they’ll be most interested in.


3. Back-to-school shoppers still wrapping up shopping lists

Summary: According to NRF’s latest Back-to-School/College Surveys, the average family with kids in K-12 did about half of their shopping by mid-August. And perhaps most interesting, 15.2% of back-to-school shoppers said 100% of their purchases are influenced by coupons, sales and promotions, the highest percent since 2011.

My thoughts: It might be too late to do anything to take advantage of Back to School shopping, but this data should not be dismissed. Instead, these trends should make you think about the future, and guide your thinking specifically around the key trends and shopping behavior for the holidays. Back to school shopping is a major trend indicator of holiday behavior because it’s another annual event, so with coupon usage and promotions being the highest percentage since 2011, we could see a similar trend for holidays. That said, we need to start thinking about what decisions should be made for holiday readiness. Sue Chapman, our director of merchandising practice, recently offered some tips to plan great holiday promotions.


4. Target And Walmart Should Seduce Customers Back Into Their Stores

Summary: The new executives at Target and Walmart have some work to do, and digital tech could change the trajectory of these otherwise stale businesses. But it’s not all about going online; it’s about driving continued traffic to the stores, and delivering engaging and exciting in-store experiences. Think: exclusivity.

My thoughts: Though I mentioned above that the traditional store is becoming more of a transaction point vs. a shopping experience, I think Target may be an exception to the rule. Every time I go into that store with the sole purpose of buying 1 item, I can’t seem to leave without a cart-full of items; that Target logo must have some hypnotic pull to it. But in all seriousness, this stickiness is the reason why Target should be leveraging digital engagement as a way to drive people in to their stores. And with their recent “Time Thieves” ads promoting buying online to pick up in store, Target should explore ways to encourage those shoppers to slowly enter the store beyond the Customer Service area with creative front-of-store displays to drive additional shopping.


5. Taxi firm Uber starts same-day grocery delivery service in US

Summary:  Uber launched an experimental “Corner Store” delivery option, allowing DC residents to have grocery items delivered to them with no minimum purchase requirement. According to Uber’s blog, the experiment will only run for a few weeks, but “the more you love it, the more likely it will last.”

My thoughts: It’s no mystery that consumers’ expectations around delivery have changed. It’s why Amazon is testing drone delivery; it’s why partnerships with Google’s same-day delivery options are popping up with various retailers, like Barnes & Noble. But this has been a challenge for retailers looking to ship groceries in a timely manner. Stop & Shop’s PeaPod is a great example of this. Due to a variety of scheduling issues with my family last week, I needed to get groceries delivered ASAP. But the ability to sign up for PeaPod wasn’t instantaneous. In fact, I had two options: order groceries that could be delivered to me in 2 days, or place an order for pick-up at a nearby store… 5 days later.

This highlights where the fulfillment gap comes in to play, and illustrates why omni-channel and product fulfillment need to be so closely aligned. Consumers who need items now need to know what’s available and where they can get it in the easiest and fastest way possible. Retailers’ back-end systems need to accommodate consumer preferences, so regardless of where a purchase is made, or how a consumer decides to receive that order, inventory information is updated in real-time.