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This article was published on November 20, 2017

The company helping retailers thrive and survive in the Amazon era

The company helping retailers thrive and survive in the Amazon era
Neil C. Hughes
Story by

Neil C. Hughes


Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast. Neil Hughes is a tech columnist, ghostwriter for tech leaders and host of the daily show, The Tech Talks Daily Podcast.

Savvy shoppers are already looking for the best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The more perceptive would argue that it would make much more sense to keep their credit card locked away rather than squandering your hard earned cash on items you want but don’t necessarily need.

On the other side of the fence, how can retailers thrive and survive in the Amazon era? The ease in which consumers can order almost anything and have it delivered the following day is something that many retailers cannot compete with or think they can.

However, CommerceHub is a company that you have probably never heard of that is helping to level the playing field for many of the worlds biggest retailers. The cloud-based e-commerce technology platform has been quietly transforming the world of retail. In the past year alone, the company’s stock price has doubled as a result.

A respectable client list that includes Walmart, QVC, Best Buy, and Toys”R” Us suggests that the retailers are finally ready to fight back. Client data indicates that stores could secure an average 12% increase in sales for every 10% increase in the number of unique products they sell.

Unfortunately, retailers are already losing 46% of their products every year to end-of-life, stock-outs, or the termination of supplier relationships. CommerceHub is attempting to solve this problem with their drop shipping/back-end logistics solution leading up to the crazy holiday retail boom.

Anyone that has had to return an online purchase will know that even e-commerce tech behemoths have a chink in their armor. The gloves are off, and the likes of Walmart are turning to CommerceHub to help increase sales and delight shoppers by expanding product assortment.

Amazon does not have physical stores and Walmart are trying to leverage this by offering free shipping and a further discount if you pick the item up in store. Walmart shoppers do not need a $99 a year membership subscription either; this is one example of how stores can fight back.

By promoting and selling products on the channels that perform, the company is also enabling rapid, on-time customer delivery. An omnichannel strategy is no longer just a nice-to-have, but the last throw of the dice to save the traditional brick-and-mortar store from the so-called retail apocalypse.

Cloud-based technologies and services are increasingly being seen as the magic sauce to enable retailers to expand their product offering without inventory risk. Merely optimising a website for mobile use is not good enough. The entire retail experience needs to give consumers exactly what they want and when they want it.

The problem facing shopping malls is that it’s typically a disappointing experience. You have to drive there, park and finally navigate around the crowds, only to find they don’t have the right product in the color or style that you are looking for. This never happens online.

CommerceHub, CEO, Frank Poore predicts that the future of retail should offer the same experience whether it is in a marketplace, Facebook, Amazon Echo, Google or even a smartwatch. The origin of any order should be irrelevant. The inventory will also be available on any channel, and even the delivery method will eventually be the most suitable carrier available, even if that is an Uber.

Anyone that connects all points of supply, delivery, and demand will have a fantastic opportunity to disrupt traditional retailers. The key to future success will be the differentiation from other retailers and the removal of frustrating friction points. But he was quick to point out that despite his vision for the future of retail, very little has changed.

In a recent podcast interview, Poore told me how his grandfather came over from Italy in the 1880’s and said, “retail is simple, it’s about getting people into the store, have what they are looking for and give them a good price.”

Despite advances in technology and buzzwords such as RetailTech, its the customers rising expectation levels that must be met. A seamless, omnichannel customer journey is the retail destination that all stores should be heading for.

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