The Paradigm Shift Has Arrived!


Having left the leading web commerce company I founded (PFSweb, Inc.) this past April, this Thanksgiving weekend was quite a different environment for me (and my family) given this was my first “cyber weekend” not participating on the front lines as a service provider or merchant for the kick off of the holiday shopping season. While it allowed for much more time with family and friends, it also provided me the opportunity to view the industry from a different lens and to spend a lot more time digesting the results of the weekends shopping trends.

I thought I’d share a couple of my thoughts about some interesting conclusions I drew from this past weekends’ results:

  • The paradigm shift has arrived – Probably the most impactful item I took away from this past weekend was the incredible growth in the use of smart phones and tablets to conduct online purchases. While reports varied across online retailers and brands, anywhere from a third to a half of all online commerce conducted this weekend was completed on a tablet or a smart phone. And while one might think that tablets would be leading the way, given their larger screen size, its actually the smart phone segment where usage grew the fastest. So what does this mean for retailers and their web development teams? In short, adopt a MOBILE FIRST design strategy ASAP. For years we’ve been developing user interfaces from the lens of a desktop or laptop screen and over the past few years we’ve used responsive design  to effectively and efficiently replicate that interface onto a tablet or smart phone display. While not perfect, responsive design eliminated the practice of developing on multiple platforms (ie. disparate code bases to maintain…ick). The paradigm shift that now faces us is that soon, if not already, a majority of online shopping will be conducted from mobile devices and the brands and retailers who embrace a mobile first strategy will win more of the hearts (and share of wallet) of consumers.
  • As I have discussed in previous posts, brands and retailers who are embracing the ever evolving impact of technology on commerce early and proactively will win greater share. Omni-channel commerce is here to stay and obviously so is mobile commerce. Yet I see many brands and retailers who have yet to aggressively embrace either. So for that audience, here’s one more tidbit of data I learned from this past weekend that should slap you awake … According the Deloitte 2013 Holiday Survey, released earlier this week, Smart phone, tablet and Omni-channel shoppers will spend 80% more this season on gifts for others (and themselves) than traditional brick and mortar buyers. So what’s this say? Well it says that if you are the brand or retailer who is not embracing these technology trends, not only are you just risking losing share, you risk losing the most attractive portion of the market share, that being buyers who buy the most.
  • One last note, I work with a lot of business to business clients/companies, both small and large, who’s actions indicate that they are generally immune to the radical change in buying habits that are impacting the business to consumer space. If this describes your company, please go scream in the hallways and get the attention of the brass and tell them to wake up, Maybe sing them the tune “Santa Clause is coming to town” and change the words to “Amazon is coming to town”. Yes Amazon is coming to your town, your space, your customers. Contractors, farmers, painters, hairdressers, grocers and _____ (insert your industry) will be impacted and those who embrace and prepare, put themselves in the best position to gain or at least maintain share and those who don’t….read the history of Blockbuster Video?

From the front door of Omni-Channel Commerce, until next time!


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