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The Retail Ecosystem Must Survive

September 20, 2012

With the change in buyer behavior to an online shopping majority, e-commerce is the method of the madness for reaching those customers. The explosion of e-commerce in home décor has manufacturers searching for the best retailing sites to partner with, based on their ability to expose the brand to potential customers in an active and ever-growing marketplace. Many manufactures have participates in flash sales sites, and have seen extraordinary success unloading last season's products, while freeing up shelf space and turning inventory into quick cash.

But in all of this, many brands seem to have forgotten that they still depend heavily on their brick-and-mortar retail store partners. More than that, all of home décor commerce has realized the need for the brick-and-mortar retailing ecosystem to survive if the rest of the industry is going to grow and succeed.

How can the retail ecosystem survive and even thrive with the online-centric commerce world we're seeing evolve?

1. Physical and Online Must Merge:
Let's face it, Ethan Allen has a great model; integrating manufacturer, physical retail stores, and online platforms is the way of the future. As shown in this infographic, 51% of retailers who fulfill online orders increased the spend of their brands. In addition, 59% of retailers have "increased stocking of brands that send them sales through retail-integrated ecommerce." And it's not just a single site - these numbers are the norm across a variety of e-commerce platforms.

2. Advertising Must Use Cross-Channel Methods: Your customers, whether they're standing in your showroom or they're surfing the web from the sofa at home, are using search. Lucky for you, studies are showing that both online search and display advertising are having a positive effect on offline sales. All you have to do is find the right mix of display and online advertising for the perfect balance that reaches your location and demographic. Technology is only going to get more integrated with retail and shopping - so it's imperative to fundamentally change how you think about marketing and advertising. The rules have drastically changed and now it's time to learn how to use technology to your advantage.

3. Stores Must Accommodate the Web-Influenced Shopper:
Today's customers are all about web-influenced sales - 90 percent of products are shopped online first and then the customer heads to a physical store because, "51 percent of customers don't want to wait for their product to arrive and 42 percent want to see a product in person before purchasing," according to the article linked above. And once they're in the store, they tend to buy beyond what they walked in for - an average spend of $154 more! So the question is: can your customers shop your store online? If not, finding a third party platform that integrates your products and stores into a seamless experience online would be worth some investigation.

Both online retailers and brick-and-mortar stores have to work together in order to preserve and grow our commercial market as a whole. E-commerce site LuxeYard agrees - in this video interview, CEO Braden Richter notes that while e-commerce has eclipsed retail, e-commerce needs to get back to the fundamentals of retail, merging those two concepts.

Through integration, cross-channel methods of advertising, and combining the offline and online worlds for a cohesive experience for the web-influenced shopper, the retail ecosystem may just survive and even thrive in this rapidly evolving marketplace.