Through the retail lens: Digital commerce

Jason Goldberg keeps an eye on digital disruption. What does he see happening next?

Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis, is well known for his opinion, sharing it on his popular Twitter feed (@retailgeek) and through his ecommerce podcast (The Jason & Scot Show). A member of NRF’s 2017 The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future, Goldberg keeps a close eye on digital disruption. He spoke with NRF about how the pandemic has impacted digital shopping.

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Jason Goldberg headshot
Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis

It’s fairly obvious that we’re in the midst of a significant shift in retail. What are you watching and why?

Three big things:

1. A whole series of new consumer behaviors as a result of shelter-in-place orders and health concerns. Things like the shift to digital channels. An increased concern around health and safety. New “stock-up” behaviors as consumers fill their pantries with larger pack sizes. All the new in-home practices like cooking, fitness and self-care. A shift from beauty to well-being. And we all adopted a pet!

2. The impacts from a sharp and deep economic downturn.

3. A major retail consolidation and its impact on the competitive market and partner ecosystem.

COVID-19 has propelled consumer adoption of digital commerce five years into the future.

What vulnerabilities has digital commerce shown during the pandemic — and how will savvy retailers overcome those going forward?

COVID-19 has propelled consumer adoption of digital commerce five years into the future. The challenge is that the economic model for digital commerce is still broken. As consumers shift from stores to online, we’re losing significant margin and we need to fix that. Once online returns start to kick in, it’s going to look even worse.

Which types of digital retailers have leapt forward significantly through the pandemic, and how can they hold onto the success they’ve had as other retailers begin to reopen?

Those that have invested the most in ecommerce automation and omnichannel customer experience are in the best shape. Obviously, a retailer like Amazon that has an unmatched investment in fulfillment centers and its own B2C logistics network is well positioned, but also a retailer like Target that is able to fill 80 percent of its online demand from its stores has a real advantage.

All of the major grocery retailers like Walmart and Kroger got a nice bump in demand, but they are really going to need to invest in automated micro-fulfillment and more efficient curbside pickup experiences to really profit from that demand.

Lots of retailers are seeing unprecedented digital demand, but in most cases haven’t been able to put their best foot forward due to supply chain and capacity constraints. Now that customers are trying our new digital experiences, we need to make them way better if we want to keep those new customers.

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