For eCommerce, the Magic Button (Almost) In Sight
In eCommerce, what’s the panacea – the cure-all for all transactional ills? Or, in this case, friction? The kind that makes consumers miserable and spurs them to abandon the shopping cart in the middle of it all …
It’s the magic button, that mythical cure-all. Prominent in the eCommerce experience, the escape hatch of sorts that makes checkout blessedly brief. After all, the fun in eCommerce is in the browsing – not in the clicking through and entering card data and addresses and the like.
We may be a ways off – but not that far off. According to the latest Data Drivers conversation between Karen Webster and Brad Fauss, Wirecard North America’s general counsel and VP of compliance and governmental affairs, retail trends have brick-and-mortar implications that should be instructive to retailers trying to reach consumers shopping a multitude of channels today.
Data Point Number One: 4.4 Percent and 10 Percent
The 4.4 percent is the percentage growth in retail sales from 2016 to 2017. Dig a little deeper and there appears another data point, and one that cuts to the heart of the matter. The real story is growth in online sales to a significant 10 percent of overall spend. Call it a twofer of data, pointing as leading indicators of where the retail experience is headed.
Said Fauss, those data points suggest that the death of the shopping mall and the physical retail experience is greatly exaggerated among doom and gloom …
“The whole pie is growing,” he said of retail – and traditional traffic is being replaced by visits to big-box retailers and, of course, the aforementioned online conduit. The growth in eCommerce sales has gone from 8.5 percent in 2017 to 9.5 percent in 2018.
“Shopping used to be binary,” Fauss told Webster. Speaking broadly of the process, he said: “Either you go into a store and purchase a product and bring it home, or you decide to buy online and you look for the best price and order it and wait seven to 10 days for it to arrive in the mail. That’s unless you're one of those loyalty buyers who gets free shipping right away.”
Now channels and choices have proliferated. Folks go into stores, touch and peruse, and then take out their mobile devices … and order. Or they go to the salesperson and order goods to be shipped to their homes. Or they buy online and pick up in store. Call it a blurring of the lines of commerce, and this makes sense in a world where integrated apps seek to tie in retailers and their respective online presences.
Add voice into the mix – through digital assistants and through home speakers – and the blurring gets ever blurrier.
As Webster noted: Call it the consumer in search of convenience.
Which leads us to …
Data Point Number 2: 73 Percent
We all look toward the younger generations to shape, well, everything – and so why should commerce be any different? The 73 percent listed above is the percentage of 18- to 24-year-olds who say they … gasp … actually like shopping in stores. But, yes, this is Gen Z, so there’s a digital connection, too.
As Fauss noted, they buy their food, their clothes and certain goods in stores, and the rest of the buying is done digitally. There’s a certain amount of reassurance that comes through the tactile experience. The death of the shopping mall? Not borne out by this generational cohort.
But the bridge between the brick-and-mortar and the bits and byte retail experiences is a rickety one. Fauss relayed an anecdote of his own to Webster to show there’s no real flow between channels. As he told it, an emailed coupon at his favorite clothing retailer promised $25 off a $100 purchase. Yet, upon visiting the store, he was told the coupon was “online only.” And they didn’t have his size, so … he ordered the items with a salesperson on the in-house computer and had it shipped to his home. Talk about friction: Days to arrive, and no discount.
“This shows the importance of an integrated strategy,” he said, one that shows retailers must be cognizant that without such fluidity, “there is a pain point that will turn consumers off.”
Asked why such disconnects abound, he stated that “it is a tech issue that [the channels] are not all tied together.” Simply put, retailers need uniformity of experience that, for instance, allows for loyalty incentives and offers to be universal – no matter what, when or how folks buy.
The aforementioned tech issue means that the separation of channels keeps store people from knowing what consumers (and would-be consumers!) have bought online, with an eye toward steering folks to favorite items or new ideas based on past history. Thus, the in-store experience can be an inefficient one, where it might otherwise, aided with such personalization, be quick and pleasant.
Such convenience, said Fauss, is “critically important. Consumers are also looking for value. So they want to feel like they're getting the best deal. And personalized offers where they're getting coupons electronically for things they want to purchase – it's a reminder that they've been in that store or purchased online from that store recently.”
Data Point Number 3: 80/20
A hybrid data point. Webster stated that consumers spend 60 percent of their time on mobile devices, but conduct only 20 percent of transactions over those tiny screens. The other 80 percent of transactions here are being done over desktops and laptops.
Chalk it up to friction, according to Fauss.
“There are two main phenomena,” he said. “There is showrooming, where you go into a store to touch the product and then you price-check online to see where the best deals are. You might ultimately decide to buy online, or you might realize you need to drive down the street to a competing store that's got a better price.”
“It could be that consumers may also migrate back to their laptops out of safety or a better user experience,” Fauss added.
Those tiny screens on mobile devices make it hard to see details, too, he said. Inputting data is no picnic, and navigating drop-down menus can be a chore. Want evidence? Take into account the PYMNTS conversion findings that show two minutes to get through a transaction, accompanied by no less than 23 clicks. The opportunity cost is considerable – $236 billion in sales that retailers might have otherwise been able to capture.
“It’s a big number,” Fauss said of that $236 billion, “and as the number of online sales goes up, the opportunity cost of lost sales is going to go up as well.”
Wirecard, in advising retailers, follows the mantra that in designing a uniform cross-channel experience, “slow and steady wins the race. If you try to do it all at once, it is too big of a task and it never gets done,” Fauss said. “But if you break it up into smaller pieces,” with an eye toward capturing data up-front (as much as possible), “this helps speed up the process.”
Thus the movement toward the "magic button," where the consumer is identified at the beginning of the online shopping journey, and the simplified web experience points them in the right direction based on prior buying history.
“You log on with your mobile device and you hit ‘buy’ and you’re done,” he told Webster. “But as you know, there are many different pieces behind the scenes, whether it's identifying yourself to make sure that it's you, to fraud deterrent measures.
“But I think that's where the industry ultimately would want to go," Fauss continued. "That's sort of the Utopian vision. As technology advances, we're getting closer and closer to it every day.
“Three or five years down the road, we're going to look back at where we are today compared to where we were at that point in time and be amazed at how far we've come,” he mused.