In 2013, Wal-Mart counted 18 million visits to its mobile shopping app. Now, only two years later, the mega retailer is projecting that mobile visits will explode to 210 million. This increase reflects a broader trend of explosive ecommerce growth across the country. New research released by the US Commerce Department indicates that third quarter ecommerce sales made up 7.4% of total retail spending; the highest increase since government tracking began in 1999. Ecommerce sales grew to $87.5 billion last quarter, a 15.1% increase over the same quarter last year. Additionally, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that holiday shopping will account for nearly 20% of total retail spending, with ecommerce sales expect to grow twice as fast as total retail sales compared to last year.
What can smart retailers do to prepare for increased demand? While optimizing online and mobile storefronts drives sales, developing a supply chain infrastructure to deliver items quickly and accurately keeps customers satisfied. An outdated supply chain infrastructure designed to ship to brick and mortar retailers won’t serve today’s ecommerce customers. Retailers that want to compete must rethink the supply chain to meet a different set of demands: fast, on-time delivery of the correct items. Voxware research indicates that 69% of shoppers are less likely to shop with a retailer if an order purchased online or over the phone isn’t delivered within two days of the promised date, and 14% of shoppers stated that they would abandon shopping with a retailer altogether after just a single late delivery.
Home Depot responded to this demand by building a new ecommerce-only distribution facility, which makes it possible for the home improvement retailer to ship to 90% of US customers within 2 days. Wal-Mart also opened a new 1 million square food ecommerce fulfillment center to meet increased demand for fast delivery of goods purchased online. Companies that build new fulfillment centers will be able to ship merchandise to more customers on ever-faster turnaround times.
In addition to growing their geographical footprints with new fulfillment centers, retailers must also consider implementing technology to help both existing and new distribution assets operate efficiently. Among these technologies are voice automation technology, which can help warehouses operate 30% more efficiently, and new predictive analytics platforms like Voxware’s Intellestra™, which can help companies react to changing conditions more quickly. With voice, companies can process orders faster and decrease the likelihood of delays. With Intellestra™, data from multiple sources can be pulled into a single platform, which allows fulfillment managers to reroute orders to distribution centers closer to a customer’s home and move departure times up to stay ahead of snowy weather forecasts.
As ecommerce sales continue to grow, technology-enabled retailers will be better positioned to capture and keep customers. Get started by learning more about how Voxware’s Cloud VMSand Intellestra™ can help your operation during the holiday season and beyond.