The Digital Shelf vs. Ecommerce: What’s the Difference?
While the digital shelf and ecommerce may sound like synonyms, there are several important differences between these two concepts.
The difference between the digital shelf and ecommerce is the digital shelf is the place, and ecommerce is the action. The digital shelf is the entire digital ecosystem, and ecommerce is the act of buying and selling on that digital shelf.
No digital shelf, no ecommerce.
On the other hand, while you never have to set foot in a store to buy something online, you can interact with the digital shelf when you buy something in-store.
For example, if you buy a product on a retailer’s website, you’re buying something online. That’s ecommerce. But you could have browsed, researched, and purchased it from a dozen different digital touchpoints, interacting with many of them on your journey. And you could have even picked up the product in-store. That’s the digital shelf.
Why Do Brands Need the Digital Shelf?
Brands need the digital shelf because today’s and tomorrow’s consumers predominantly shop online. Eighty-six percent of today’s shoppers rely on digital information while shopping, according to the same 2021 Salsify report.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave the world a definitive and permanent push toward buying online. But this merely accelerated an existing shift to digital-centric shopping experiences.
Even in-store purchases are heavily influenced or even determined by your presence on the digital shelf. If people can’t find your products when they’re searching for products online, then you may have much less chance of closing a sale — even if someone happens to be browsing in a physical store.
The Future of the Digital Shelf
The digital shelf emerged from an evolution in how people find product information and make purchases. Moving forward, shoppers will increasingly discover, research, and buy online.
The future of physical retail is deeply entwined with digital experiences and vice versa. The internet, a host of other supporting technologies like mobile, and shifts in shopper behavior, have transformed the physical shelf and the digital shelf into a single interconnected consumer experience.
Watch our on-demand webinar, “Digital Shelf Refresh With Accenture Interactive,” to learn how to optimize your digital shelf presence to meet modern consumer demands.