Omnichannel Opportunities

eBay Inc. Staff

A commerce revolution is underway, blending online and offline shopping experiences in new and exciting ways. The evidence is all around us. Consumers can buy whatever they want anytime, anywhere. Ubiquitous mobile devices are changing the ways we engage with both physical retail outlets and ecommerce sites. It’s all part of the rapidly evolving omnichannel environment.

At ecommerce companies, including eBay and Amazon, the multiscreen experience is driving rapid change in consumer shopping experiences.  Morgan Stanley Research recently noted that individual users are increasingly gravitating toward multiple mobile devices, and shifting their shopping patterns as they do so. Pew Research Center reports that 34 percent of U.S. adults now own a tablet device, up from two percent less than three years ago.

Meanwhile, smartphones are gaining market share in parts of the world where they were scarce before, and initiatives such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s project will bring online access to billions of currently disconnected people.

Many consumers are now savvy at “showrooming,” which has even earned its own Wikipedia entry: “The practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick-and-mortar retail store, then shopping online to buy it at a lower price.”

"A retailer might call that a multi-channel or omnichannel shopping experience," said eBay Inc. President and CEO John Donahoe, at an April shareholder meeting. "A consumer calls that shopping."

eBay Inc. is innovating fiercely to enable omnichannel shopping. The company’s RedLaser app allows consumers to make quick, mobile price comparisons on the go. And eBay Inc. is helping retailers deliver multichannel consumer experiences: eBay Enterprise partners with retailers that want to add omnichannel capabilities, the Magento ecommerce platform enables shopping features through multiple channels, and PayPal is enabling global payments online and offline for retailers of all sizes.

Likewise, same-day delivery is an important part of the omnichannel shopping trend. Shoppers can now purchase products via smartphones, tablets or computers and have them delivered from stores in under an hour in many metropolitan areas. The eBay Now service is already catering to this trend, and Amazon, Google and Walmart are similarly experimenting with versions of the concept.

Technology innovation is also expanding access to shopping through other types of connected devices. eBay recently partnered with Kate Spade on shoppable storefronts in Manhattan. The interactive storefronts allowed shoppers to select and order merchandise from Kate Spade Saturday, Kate Spade’s new weekender line, on wall-mounted touchscreen devices. Customers could also schedule free one-hour deliveries to anywhere in the city and pay with PayPal Here upon delivery directly from the interactive storefront.

Today, consumers can shop online and increasingly offline, anytime, anywhere. Consumer engagement — ranging from a storefront after hours to an iPad, computer or local store are all part of the omnichannel consumer experience. Emerging wearable devices, such as smart watches and smart glasses, could also eventually become enabling technologies for brand new types of shopping experiences.

Going forward, retailers and ecommerce companies must be screen- and channel-agnostic as they seek to engage consumers in innovative new ways. Omnichannel shopping will arguably transform the commerce landscape more in the next five years than we’ve seen in the past two decades.