Changing With Shopping Behavior. It’s an E-commerce World

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Originally featured in “VGM Playbook: Forecasting 2021” by VGM & Associates, director of VGM Retail, Rob Baumhover, discusses the opportunity of developing an e-commerce platform to help businesses grow and become more profitable. You can access the full playbook here

As the calendar turns to a new year, leaders spend time analyzing the good and bad that occurred during the previous one. They also evaluate opportunities they want to take on to help their business grow and be more profitable.

One of those opportunities everyone needs to look into, is an e-commerce platform. “Why?” you ask. Because the reality is consumer shopping behavior has been changing for some time, and it was expedited during the pandemic. You’ve likely heard in the media and from retail experts that consumer shopping won’t go back to the way it was prior to the pandemic any time soon—and possibly ever. I would have to agree. It’s going to be quite some time before consumers feel comfortable shopping like they used to. This might be especially true for those deemed high-risk or 65 and older, who I’d say is one of the top consumer segments for a DME, if not the top.

However, younger consumers too are relishing in the contactless purchase options. Each and every one of our shopping behaviors have changed during the pandemic. I’d even bet nearly all who are reading this have found it easier or more time-saving to shop online for items we never thought we would have before. What’s our first instinct when we need something? It’s not to jump in the car and drive down to the closest store like in the past—it’s to reach for our phone and search for it.

DME providers have always been in the business to serve and help their community. By providing an e-commerce platform along with your brick-andmortar, you meet the needs and expectations of all consumers. Your brick-and-mortar would then be used to provide the experience. After all, “nothing beats the experience of shopping in person.” Meanwhile, your e-commerce becomes the extension to your store. By doing so, you have created two solutions that meet every customer where their shopping preference lies.

This also allows you the opportunity to cut down on the amount of inventory you have on the floor and possibly on-hand altogether, saving upfront costs. The floor should now be used for showcasing products (show the consumer what it would look like in their home) vs. bulk stocking products (like you would see at a big box store). If you partner with a distributor to pick, pack, and ship the orders, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to cut down on inventory in your stockrooms, again saving some upfront cost. Most distributors can now deliver products next day or within a couple days just like the big e-commerce players. Here are some other opportunities to adding e-commerce to your mix:

5 Direct Benefits of an E-commerce Platform

  1. Fast Go-to-Market Strategy
  2. Low Cost to Set Up
  3. Shoppers Often Start Online
  4. Ability to Reach New Customers
  5. Meeting Customers Where They Are

The vast majority of e-commerce sites are already being operated by brick-and mortar retailers, allowing them to meet their customers’ needs and wants when and where the consumer wants. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, I’d recommend setting up an e-commerce platform to drive your business into the future. Don’t be like the retailers that you read and hear about who failed to react and are now dinosaurs of the retail industry. The economy will rebound and growth will take time, but those who develop and bring new solutions to their customers will benefit and be ahead of the curve.

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