Forrester Research has a new forecast out that covers all retail sales – delivering the news that 2015 will be a watershed year in retail. In 2015 more sales will be either Web Influenced & Web Only…versus Non-Web Influenced. The report is titled “US Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2011 – 2016“. For manufacturers and their local retailers who sell those goods, this should have a profound impact on your actions.
Doing the math: $1.856 Trillion in 2015 retail is the combination of ecommerce and web-influenced sales — beating out the $1,780 Trillion in “old fashioned retail”. The other way to phrase this is : “All Newspaper/TV/Radio/Direct Mail/POS/Sky-writing only” influenced retail will be in the minority in a short years.
As most things are in life, this is a double-edged sword.
The downside for manufacturers and their retail channel partners caught flat-footed will be fewer sales and higher costs sunk in traditional “paid” media. Retailers will be “showroomed” by consumers who browse in your retail aisles but buy elsewhere — either online or down the street. I recently bought a laptop and accessed specs and reviews on my smartphone while in 3 different stores — ultimately buying in the last store. How many of you have spent a few hours researching a product online, and knew more than the salesperson when you visited the store?
The upside of this trend will be more sales at lower costs for those who embrace this new technology-enabled consumer at every phase of the process. Depending upon your product category: Dreaming/Inspiration >Casual Research > Retail and Online Investigation > Purchase > First Use > Ownership.
Consider: What content and assistance do you offer online to help consumers at each of these phases? Are you reaching these consumers with your paid media as well as your owned (i.e. free) media? Is your online product selection and experience consistent to your retail environment? Manufacturers, are you syndicating your content and making it easy for your retailers to use it in their websites and social media?
There is still time to get ready for 2015 if you start soon.