If your business growth is being driven by ecommerce, I’m afraid the bad news is that digital commerce revenue is slowing down.

A recent Gartner whitepaper on this topic proved a real eye opener. The analyst forecasts that digital commerce is not only slowing in influence now, but will continue to do so through to 2017 – by which time it will account for less than 20% of multichannel retailers’ overall revenue.

What this means in real terms, essentially, is that retailers won’t be able to rely on ecommerce alone to drive business growth. Less developed channels such as mobile commerce and social sales will increase their share of influence, but neither of these will send sales stratospheric.

So if digital commerce is slowing, how should retailers respond? One very interesting insight from Gartner is the role of consumers in technology-led interactions.

For example, ecommerce might not be gaining the channel share it once was, but it is vital to supporting multi-channel custom; store sales have risen 22% under the influence of online traffic. In fact, the store has morphed from purely a purchasing channel to a sales centre, showroom and multi-channel fulfilment centre.

The problem for many retailers, however, is that they lack the in-store technology to meet these varying roles. This is what separates traditional retailers moving into the multi-channel sphere from start-ups creating a blended digital/physical model from scratch in 2015.

 

As Gartner notes, the rise of ‘crowdstorming’ platforms among these new companies enables consumers and retail decision makers to interact and respond to each other’s experiences, and create a truly customer-centric business model.

Though not as easy to accomplish within longstanding businesses trying to overcome siloed channels, the concept of collaboration is an important one. In retail, we are not just trying to build new ways to sell; we want to make existing customers’ experiences better, to increase both their satisfaction and their spending levels.

Therefore, retailers’ greatest challenge is not to find the next sales channel, but to develop an omnichannel strategy capable of adapting to new touch points being highlighted by their customers. Let consumers dictate the pace of change, and do the utmost to sustain a connected, gratifying cross-channel shopping experience as the retail landscape evolves.

One of the most simultaneously exciting and worrying aspects of working in retail is the uncertainty: we know digital commerce will slow down, but we can’t quite predict at what rate, in which markets and in which ways.

All retailers can do is put the technology in place to enable flexible customer interactions, which is capable to adapt to new growth channels as they emerge

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