E-commerce: champion of innovation in the face of health and regulatory constraints – EconomyMatin

The figures speak for themselves: according to FEVAD, the e-commerce market represents 112 billion euros in 2020. Already in strong growth before the advent of Covid-19 and the upheavals it has engendered, online commerce has exploded in recent months. It is essential for all retail traders and allows them to partially compensate for the regular closures of physical points of sale. But this is not always painless, and delivery issues have also grown considerably. This new state of the market is in the process of revolutionizing the way we consume… Let’s decipher the situation and the new trends together.

Anticipate uncertainty

The expression might seem contradictory. However, this is the reality in which the brands have lived since the start of the crisis, faced with the various measures taken to respond to the health risk. Strict confinement, light confinement, curfews at changing times, closures of businesses according to their size, classification of essential and non-essential businesses… So many changing rules to which we must constantly adapt, most often without delay. This stop and go leads to logistical, human and commercial difficulties that traders must anticipate. E-commerce appears here as a welcome digital alternative to allow business continuity. Retailers have adapted by transforming their sales channels into a hybrid model, streamlining in-store journeys and strengthening their e-commerce sites to absorb traffic and additional orders. But some initiatives built in a hurry are struggling to register serenely over time and meet new consumer expectations. The latter are in fact always looking for more flexibility, speed and security, both in the shopping experience and for the withdrawal of orders in store or even home delivery or relay point. If the efforts made in the digital purchasing journey (simplification of ordering processes, fluidity of the customer journey, secure payment, etc.) bear fruit, it is often at the level of final logistics and the last mile that the pack injured. In short, everything is fluid until payment. The trouble starts with the delivery.

Product delivery: too often a failing endpoint of the purchasing experience

More online orders also means more deliveries to homes, stores or pick-up points. The rise of e-commerce makes delivery a crucial step in the customer experience. Home delivery today represents 25% (Ademe, 2019) of CO2 emissions in France. A proportion that is only growing to meet the promises of ever faster delivery, even though more than 20% of packages are not delivered to the recipient at the 1st presentation. The ecological impact is therefore major. To respond to both environmental issues, urban traffic density, and consumer expectations, it is necessary to be able to optimize delivery rounds by focusing on places that combine distribution and collection of parcels. This therefore implies both an awareness on the part of the consumer so that he favors less polluting approaches such as Click & Collect, but also for the brand with the establishment of a new logistics organization capable of coping with the influx of online orders, while keeping customer satisfaction in sight. This cannot be improvised, regardless of the level of maturity of the organization. In addition, the stakes are long-lasting, because e-commerce must not be opposed to physical commerce. It is the complementarity and cohabitation between these two approaches that will allow retailers to remain competitive in the coming months and years. And this will permanently change our consumption habits …

Trends: how will we consume tomorrow?

We have seen the principle of Click & Collect in stores – which consists of ordering online and picking up your product in store – have become more democratic in recent months in all sectors. We are currently observing an acceleration of Click & Collect Outdoor:as its name suggests, it is the establishment of an outside parcel collection and deposit service. This materializes in the form of lockers available at all hours of the day and night for consumers. With his online order, a customer receives a code that allows him to recover his package without being dependent on administrative closures related to the health situation.

In addition, the brands are looking to set up mixed solutions pooling the withdrawal of orders. Click & Collect and at a pick-up point in order to generate more in-store traffic.

Finally, another initiative at emerged and is changing the landscape of e-commerce: the Shop in Shop. For a brand, this involves installing a new space outside of its own stores, in a strategic location where it does not have a store. This can be done within the same group, or in the form of a partnership with another brand. Some supermarkets, for example, will allocate part of their available space to another brand, in the spirit of corners of multi-brand department stores. The brand thus strengthens its presence and visibility in an area and also offers its customers a new Click & Collect point by avoiding the constraints associated with opening a new point of sale. The Shop in Shop can also intervene outside with, in many cases, a partnership set up with large food stores. Their staff takes care of loading the parcel lockers, generally located in the car park, and of managing the follow-up of the collection / deposit logistics.

These new trends allow brands to expand their geographic coverage and the choice of their pick-up points. On the customer side, they are synonymous with more autonomy and proximity. For everyone, the benefit is also ecological since the Click & Collect is a “solidarity” purchasing method, which reduces the carbon footprint linked to the delivery of parcels.

In a world as complex and moving as ours, knowing how to combine sales in stores and online sales is a real challenge for traders. Where e-commerce was sometimes a still timid project for some brands, it has emerged as a priority with the Covid-19 crisis. It is now a question of building a sustainable, complementary, adaptive and responsive omnichannel model. The approaches that are Click & Collect indoor and outdoor and the Shop in Shop are avenues of development full of promise. The crisis has not slowed down innovation, and that’s good for the customer experience and the competitiveness of brands!