Competition is core to the free market concept. By finding ways to outpace, outperform, and outproduce your competitors, you can stay ahead of the curve and attract new potential customers.

This ability to capture customers’ attention has become increasingly critical, as supply chain challenges and pandemic pressures have pushed both brands and retailers online.

In Q3 2021 alone, ecommerce sales hit $204 billion in the United States, up 6.8% from the prior year, according to Digital Commerce 360. 

As retailers and brands converge on the same digital space, competition seems like the natural outcome, leading to a win/loss approach — which often turns into a lose/lose scenario for both sides.

In practice, there’s a better way to boost ecommerce growth and impact: collaboration.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble

Consumer purchasing habits have changed. Supercharged by the sudden shutdowns — both temporary and permanent — of many brick-and-mortar stores, shoppers are now looking to interact with brands and retailers that provide engaging shopping experiences across the digital shelf.

This starts with an omnichannel approach: Buyers want the ability to engage with your business anytime, anywhere, and over any channel.

They expect you to come equipped with information about their past interactions, while also being able to address any issues they may have in the moment.

In addition, consumers are looking to engage with companies more organically over social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok.

They want websites to personalize their shopping experience through the use of consensual data collection and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven algorithms. 

For brands and retailers, this push to prioritize customer attention often leads to an “us or them” mentality.

Physical retailers with robust digital platforms are looking to draw in foot traffic and drive repeat sales, while online brand portals are hoping customers will skip the store and buy from them directly. 

In many cases, this competition leads to a Pyrrhic victory: If brands succeed in pulling consumers away from retail stores, they’re losing a potential stream of revenue.

And if retailers convince customers to skip the brand website, they’re missing the opportunity to pinpoint new product lines that could drive greater return on investment (ROI).

Benefits of Ecommerce Collaboration

UBS predicts that 80,000 stores will shut their doors permanently by 2026, notes Fortune.

With brands and retailers making the move online, there’s an opportunity to drive ecommerce growth through collaboration. 

Working in tandem offers key benefits, including:

Enhanced Customer Experiences

By comparing notes on what customers want, retailers and brands can be better equipped to deliver improved experiences across the digital shelf. 

Consider the demand for more flexible shopping options. You can enhance the overall consumer experience through collaboration.

For example, this type of approach could give customers the option to:

  • Buy directly from a brand’s ecommerce site — and have the items shipped to their home; or
  • Make that purchase through a local retailer that offers buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options.

Increased Consumer Loyalty

With so many choices available both online and in-store, consumer loyalty is critical.

Building this loyalty is no easy task; Shep Hyken found that 96% of customers will leave if they experience poor customer service from your company. 

By sharing information about customer preferences both in-store and online, brands and retailers can build seamless support options that boost consumer loyalty.

Take the example of a customer who purchases a brand item in-store and then encounters a manufacturing defect.

If the only response they get from the retailer is that it’s the brand’s problem — or vice versa — loyalty quickly declines. 

If brands and retailers work together, however, they can offer alternative options.

For example, brands might authorize retailers to replace defective items at the point of sale, while retailers may connect customers with brand representatives via dedicated service lines for this purpose.

Improved Strategic Decision-Making

Working together also provides brands and retailers the ability to access data about the end-to-end customer journey.

Brands and retailers are better positioned to make data-driven decisions if they’re equipped with information about:

  • Total sales volumes;
  • Price points online and in-store;
  • Where products are located on retail floors;
  • What signage is in place; and
  • How much associates know about the product line, including its manufacturing process, materials, and warranty policies. 

These types of insights might drive retailers to move products to new store locations or change signage to better reflect brand messaging. 

Similarly, brands might want to consider more in-depth activation by sending teams to retail stores for one-on-one engagement with customers and salespeople.

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

When it comes to ecommerce growth, working in tandem offers advantages for both brands and retailers. But it’s one thing to understand the benefits — it’s another to deploy them in practice.

It all starts with data. By leveraging platforms that deliver robust product experience management, supplier experience management, and social commerce solutions, brands and retailers can effectively compare notes about what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs to change. 

Consider a clothing brand selling in a popular retail store and via their own ecommerce portal.

Using data gathered from consumer buying habits online, brands can help retailers adjust order volumes and variety to better match consumer preferences. 

By collecting data around customer traffic, retailers can better position brand items to increase sales — in turn driving profits on both ends.

This is the true advantage of collaboration. While competition offers limited returns by forcing customers to choose between retailer and brand, bringing both together makes it possible for brands and retailers to create unified customer experiences that deliver a sense of connectivity and care, in turn boosting both online and brick-and-mortar sales.

If you’re looking to drive ecommerce growth, remember that teamwork and collaboration are key. 

Watch “The Era of Omni-Commerce: New Insights for Dominating the Digital Shelf and Beyond” webinar for additional insights on shopper behaviors — and tips on how to establish more effective ecommerce strategies.

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Posted by Contributor