More than 40%, or $1.3 trillion of total U.S. retail sales, will be cross-channel by 2013, according to Forrester Research’s report titled: Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2011 To 2016 (U.S.). That total is expected to grow to approximately $1.7 trillion by 2016.
As consumers rely more on the web to investigate potential purchases, social media, search and other online tools/technologies are having a greater impact on transactions completed within brick-and-mortar stores. To help retailers keep pace with this integration of digital and physical channels, eBay announced its newest division: eBay Local.
With eBay Local, retailers can share real-time inventory details with more than 100 million shoppers throughout eBay properties. As of June 2012, eBay Local had collaborated with 56 of the top 100 retailers and incorporated product availability and real-time prices for more than 50,000 stores nationwide.
Best Buy, Bloomingdale’s, Crate & Barrel and Macy’s are among the retailers currently using eBay Local to educate consumers across digital channels more effectively, with the goal of better decision-making in store aisles.
eBay Local is powered by Milo, a platform allowing consumers to access a specific brick-and-mortar store’s inventory online and via mobile, as well as detailed product information, user reviews and pricing details.
“Our overarching mission is to bring offline information to the online world,” Jack Abraham, eBay’s Director of Local and Founder/CEO of Milo, told Retail TouchPoints. “That’s an extensive agenda: we’re offering an assortment of solutions for small, medium and large retailers, allowing these companies to have the resources to add inventory information online and get that information out to a greater number of consumers.”
Due to the continued growth of online searching, browsing and buying strategies, retailers need to “adapt and grow to keep pace with consumers’ cross-channel shopping trends,” Abraham said. “Retailers need to be at every decision-point as consumers determine what to buy and from where.”
These consumers use many different channels for interacting with brands and their inventory, Abraham continued. As a result, “the key is to be where the customers are, which may not be the retailers’ own web sites. This is a very big realization for retailers. It’s important that they embrace the fact that shoppers also are searching social media, the web, mobile applications and other channels.”
Through the eBay Local platform, enterprise and SMB retailers can access a variety of technology solutions that integrate with existing inventory systems at individual stores, allowing them to reach shoppers on a more local level. Shoppers can have instant availability and pricing for items at nearby locations.
“People are getting addicted to the transparent online shopping experience,” Abraham explained, “which allows them to receive in-depth information and determine the best option for items before committing to a purchase and going to the store.”
Becoming A Part Of The Online Conversation
To maximize brick-and-mortar purchases, “merchants need to be part of the online conversation,” Abraham stated. “As multichannel retailing continues to grow, retailers must implement solutions that give them a more expansive online presence. That way, when purchase decisions are being made across digital channels, these merchants are more likely to be included in the consideration set, and will have a better chance of converting online browsers into brick-and-mortar purchasers.”
To further optimize exposure across these touch points, retailers may leverage offerings from eBay Local’s array of solution partners, including GSI Commerce, Shopping.com, X.commerce and others. Retailers that partner with eBay Local also increase exposure through affiliation with the RedLaser mobile barcode scanner and QR code reader. Their automatic listings in the “Local” tabs of all RedLaser app scans and search results boost awareness of offers, pricing and product availability, and compare them to nearby competitors.