75% of retailers prioritize e-commerce sales above in-store sales

New survey conducted by MN company SPS Commerce finds that e-commerce has replaced in-store sales as a top priority for the first time

By Brian Martucci
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

About a year ago, Amazon’s market capitalization surpassed Walmart’s for the first time, according to Fortune. Since then, the question dominating brick and mortar retailers’ boardrooms has been, “How can we be more like Amazon?”

In truth, there’s no real distinction between “brick and mortar” and “online” retail anymore. There hasn’t been for some time. Retailers looking to compete seriously for consumers’ dollars take an “omnichannel” approach that mixes traditional brick and mortar, traditional online, cutting-edge sales tactics and technologies in both venues, and modern conveniences like ship-to-store and same-day delivery (with stores often acting as fulfillment hubs). Minnesota’s reigning retail king spent $1 billion last year to place its ecommerce platform on par with its in-store systems, and further investment is coming.

According to a new survey from Minneapolis-based cloud retail service provider SPS Commerce and market research firm Retail Systems Research, Target isn’t alone. Respondents ranked “growing ecommerce sales” as their top priority, ahead of second-place “improving the in-store experience,” by 75% to 53%. Distributors, meanwhile, prize “rapid fulfillment” (80%) above all else.

“For the last three years, the survey has shown omnichannel retail evolving from a quest for consistent customer facing experience to a scramble for faster fulfillment,” says Nikki Baird, Retail Systems Research managing partner. “Retailers need to have the ability to take an order no matter where demand is generated, or where the inventory to meet that demand is located, and get it to the customer as quickly as possible.”

SPS Commerce offers a host of high-tech solutions for retailers looking to compete in the ever-changing omnichannel environment, including a vastly improved Sourcing solution that “a data-driven process that helps retailers facilitate relationships with well-matched vendors” in SPS Commerce’s thousands-strong retail network.

“[SPS’s Sourcing solution] introduced us to scores of qualified vendors that we didn’t know existed but were a perfect fit for our merchandising strategy,” says Eddie Alberty, vice president of strategic partnerships at SHOP.COM, a large SPS customer. “The solution has streamlined our sourcing process by relying on SPS to identify and pre-screen vendors, allowing our merchandisers to focus on vendors that met our merchandising, supply-chain and financial requirements.”

Omnichannel might no longer be optional, but it’s nice to see a Minnesota company leading retailers big and small through the wilderness.