The Impacts of E-Commerce on Retail

by Jeffrey Neville
November 12, 2019

There’s no denying e-commerce has disrupted the retail industry. The advent of online shopping has transformed the buyer’s journey, forcing retailers to meet the anytime, anywhere demands of increasingly tech-savvy shoppers. While the U.S. Census Bureau concluded e-commerce sales accounted for only 10.7% of all sales1 in the second quarter of 2019, online shopping has steadily been taking a bigger piece of the retail pie every year.

impacts of e-commerce on retail

The multi-channel shopping journey

Today’s consumers have more shopping options than ever before, coupled with competitive pricing, better merchandise assortments and faster delivery. The customer journey is evolving. Consumers are moving across digital channels to research, purchase and review products, adding to the complexity retailers already face. In BRP’s 2019 Consumer Shopping Survey, we found that digital consumers have higher expectations of customer service and personalized recommendations than traditional consumers. Digital consumers use technology to make the shopping process easier and more personalized, while traditional consumers are more concerned with finding the product they need and having it available in the store they shop. Despite their varying preferences, we found that 97% of digital consumers and 90% of traditional consumers do online research before they visit a store.

Since consumers now start and stop their shopping journey on different channels, such as mobile, online or in-store, and frequently shop for the same product across different retailers, a seamless shopping experience across an entire brand is the expectation. The survey found that 82% shopped and reviewed products online and then purchased the item in the store. Each of these steps along the shopping journey is providing retailers with new opportunities to drive sales, strengthen relationships and build customer loyalty.

Converging the physical and digital shopping experience

Despite the e-commerce revolution, physical stores play a vital role in the shopping journey. Retailers that blend the physical and digital shopping experience are set to achieve greater gains over the competition. Providing a true unified commerce approach, one where digital technology is embedded into the shopping journey, requires a transformation of people, technology and processes. Retailers who find that perfect balance will not only be successful at providing customers with the information and convenience desired but will deliver a truly cohesive brand experience.

For further insight on the impacts of e-commerce on the retail industry, download the BRP Special Report: The E-Commerce Effect.
1https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf