Reacting to customers and competition in real-time has quickly become a business necessity for today's retailers. You know the drill by now: Global eCommerce retail sales hit $1 Trillion for the first time in the last quarter of 2012; Forrester analysts predict U.S. sales of $327 billion for 2016; and online retail is experiencing double-digit annual growth. With lightning speed, retail become increasingly more competitive and crowded; there's more transparency of, and accessibility to information (thanks to smartphones, tablets, apps and more); with greater and more skillful use of technology by both consumers and retailers. The major effect is eCommerce online retail competition -- dealing with each other, and with the customer in real-time.
"…Competitive retail intelligence is far too critical to leave to the non-real-time, highly variable nature of human assessment, judgment, and action,” said Upstream Commerce CEO, Amos Peleg from the beginning. "In order to remain competitive, retail owners, executives, managers and buyers need to have objectively and scientifically gathered, actionable and timely, price and product assortment insights -- right at their fingertips."
Here are some of the reasons for the dramatic changes in the retail world and the need to meet them in real-time:
1. Retail Competition Increases
Retailers, online and off, seek new ways to compete and attract business. Brick and mortar stores as we knew them continue to disappear, or, at the very least, adapt and change themselves into something that will attract the ever-connected consumer.
Some online retailers are opening real stores to provide physical locations for merchandising, ordering and delivery, while many retailers are opening online outlets to provide multichannel services.
2. The "Connected" Consumer
The consumer wields remarkable -- and growing -- leverage, thanks to transparency and the use and ubiquity of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for Information-gathering, competitive comparisons, shopping and buying.
Last year, consumers spent more than $20.7 billion shopping using mobile devices -- $5 billion of those purchases were made on tablets -- and, consumers using tablets spent an average of $10 more per purchase!
3. Omnichannel Marketing Is The New Normal
As customers become more sophisticated, knowledgable, and powerful through technology, retailers are becoming much more sophisticated and savvy about maximizing SEO and social media exposure across the board to highlight their brand and entice, please, and satisfy customers.
Omnichannel Marketing is the new "normal" as retailers scramble to provide information, service, and sales -- whether the customer comes via a search engine, website, social medium, or store experience. In other words, retailers have to reach -- and respond to -- the consumers by every method possible -- as seamlessly as possible.
4. Big Competitors Cause BIG Competition As They Grow & Expand
Google, continues to dominate as an information search engine and resource. Retailers need to present their information in the best ways to satisfy Google logarithms and "rules" to get the greatest exposure. And, as if that isn't enough, Google is said to be preparing to compete in retail.
Amazon represents another daunting challenge to other retailers. The retail dominator constantly changes its prices to be the most competitive. And, on another front, Amazon has built many delivery centers to push same-day delivery; and many of the larger retailers are following suit.
5. Competitive Technology & Support Services Become A Necessity
Retailers, big and small, online and off -- needing to know what the competition is doing at all times and set prices properly for sales and profit -- are finding it imperative to use serious technological support like cloud-based retail intelligence Software as a Service, such as that provided by companies like Upstream Commerce.
Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line
In today's ultra-fast-paced world, retailers are harnessing the best of technology to automate processes and deliver information for analysis, strategic decision-making, and price optimization 24/7.
These specialized services have become absolutely essential so retailers can keep up with, and stay ahead of, the eCommerce online retail competition, as well as meet the connected consumer in real-time in today's marketplace!
"The more a retailer knows, the more power they have in their hands": Forrester top retail analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru.