If the start of global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated e-commerce growth with millions of consumers purchasing products online, pandemic fatigue is now driving many consumers, at least in the U.S., back to in-person shopping. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. shoppers spent more time and money at physical stores over the recent Thanksgiving holiday than last year. In fact, per RetailNext, store traffic on Black Friday rose a whopping 61% over last year. For many shoppers, returning to stores is a way to get gift ideas, resume old traditions, and simply try and find coveted items during supply chain woes. 

However, the rise of in-person shopping hasn’t curbed consumers’ online shopping habits. According to Adobe Analytics, digital sales from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31, 2021, are anticipated to reach $207 billion, representing a record gain of 10%.

With shoppers returning to malls and stores while continuing to purchase other items online, retailers need to ensure great consumer-centric experiences across channels. Over the past two years we’ve seen countless retailers pivot hard to deliver stellar online experiences and omni-channel options such as curbside pick-up, buy online pick-up in store (BOPIS), same-day delivery and much more. “Analysts say such hybrid shopping — scanning store shelves before buying online, for example, or opting to pick up online purchases in-person — has become a bigger priority for both retailers and consumers during the pandemic.” It’s not about one or the other. Some things are easier to do online while others make sense or are more fun to do in stores. 

My recent quest for a new electric kettle is case in point. When the kettle suddenly stopped working, I first did a search on “best electric kettles,” then I short-listed a few items, and finally I did a search to see where they are being sold. While it’s very likely that I’ll simply walk into the store to make this purchase, my ability to know what items are available, where they are located and when I can get them, makes it easy for me as a consumer – and necessary for retailers to create seamless experiences across their online and physical stores. 

Given this shift in consumer behavior, it has become important for retailers to offer the best inventory and sourcing information to shoppers. This is where solutions from Blue Yonder can make a world of difference. With real-time inventory visibility across your enterprise, you can show shoppers what items are available at the closest store, what items are only available to be shipped, and what items are out of stock. There is no guesswork for you or your consumer. 

Similarly, today’s shoppers demand flexible, transparent fulfillment options at the time of purchase. Blue Yonder’s Commits microservice provides consumers with complete transparency into their fulfillment options, including order-by/get-by timelines. Access to definitive fulfillment information translates to increased shopper confidence and loyalty, lower rates of cart abandonment and increased conversion rates. And lastly, all of this requires a single source of truth for all orders. In a world where consumers blur the lines between online and in-store shopping, order management solutions must support how retailers and consumers operate. 

To learn more about Blue Yonder’s e-commerce microservices, click here.