To ensure customers visit retail establishments in the future – and that’s measured in months for some, years not decades for others – the retail experience must be structured around the human component. 

The first step is to get back to the basics of delivering on the customer’s wants and needs, building trust, and demonstrating that our appreciation of the individual shopper goes beyond the sum and substance of her transactions. As environmental factors and fast, convenient e-commerce increasingly keep consumers in their seats, it’s essential we view each person who walks into our shop as a golden opportunity.

The companies who have lost sight of 'why' the consumer prefers to shop with a competitor rather than them are already on a very slippery slope to decline. 

"media is now a cost of sales and rent is now a cost of customer acquisition. Retailers that miss or ignore this shift will do so at their peril" So says Doug Stephens Retail Futurist.

This conversation got me thinking about whether or not eCommerce along with other 'distance shopping' initiatives has unintentionally made us become distant with our customers?. The whole online shopping industry spends most of its time obsessing about ways to get customers to the eCommerce website, ensuring that the onsite journey is easy, and hoping that journey turns into a commercial sale. 

So much so that most websites (mobile and Apps) try and automate everything in order they can reduce any real human interaction which in turn can keep cost down, but is it at the cost of commoditizing a void between real human interaction without the building a relationship?.

Q) If physical retail is screwed why are e-commerce merchants wanting to open so many physical stores and pop-ups? 

A) They recognize the need to reach out and touch the customer as an important part of the 'human component'.

Along with the huge growth in eCommerce I think we've subconsciously become disconnected from the customer and vice versa. Every bit of evidence suggest that whilst brands obsess about getting us to the site and then to the checkout in a friction-less manner they've forgotten to 'listen'. Its all very 'functional', it's bland, it's solitary, and it's managed to isolate brand and customer.

Here's another reason those eCommerce companies are also having to learn new things in order that they evolve with consumer behavior.

Do yourself a favour and type into 'Google' a search that begins with the terms 'What, Why, How, Who'.

Once there scroll past those 'paid ads' at the top, make sure your sitting down because what you'll see next will probably make you feel quite sick. Source Search Engine land

Particularly as you, your team, and your agency have been optimising your website for these many years in order that should such a search term be entered into Google your website might benefit from the click to the source (your website) from that search - well, no more my friends, no more.

Now, more than 50% of Google searches end without a click to other content WTF!!!

Historically, getting traffic to your website was the whole point of playing (and paying for) search optimisation with Google's bat and ball - wasn't it?

So, is this the beginning of the end of eCommerce as we know it?

The last few years Physical Retail has been going through an enforced review around how (or even if) they have a future in today's always on, digitally connected, socially savvy and 'I want it now' impatient consumer.

But can the same be said for eCommerce as we've come to know it, are we witnessing the beginning of the end of eCommerce?

Access to the consumer has never been easier, it's cost is at the lowest in marketing history mainly thanks to the phenomenal explosion of social networks around the globe. So if a brand/company wanted to reinvent itself it must first take a serious note of those changing behaviours and recognise that inertia is firmly in the hands of today's consumer. Daily there are more brands/companies (your current suppliers) electing to go where they never went before which is to build a direct relationship with 'your' customer' and look to cut you out. And the rocket fuel that's helping them get there is the prolific use of social media to help educate, inform, listen, learn, and most likely transact.

Social commerce doesn't require a consumer to be 'driven' to your website, it doesn't require a consumer to spend an age going through your funnel today, that was yesterday!!

eCommerce didn't screw physical retail, it did that on its own by not taking a serious look at changes in consumer behaviour.