OPINION: The rise of 'retail as a service' - PC Retail

OPINION: The rise of 'retail as a service'

Stephen Mader from analysts Kantar Retail examines how Amazon, eBay and Rakuten are streamlining the online shopping experience
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Stephen Mader from analysts Kantar Retail examines how Amazon, eBay and Rakuten are streamlining the online shopping experience.

When we imagine what global e-commerce retailers will look like in three years, we see some key trends around convergence in business models. 

Amazon, eBay and Rakuten are all innovating on behalf of their shoppers and sellers to remove friction from the shopping experience. Next year will be the year of the ‘retail as a service’ business model.

I define this model as retailers that build open platforms and toolkits that enable brands and third party sellers to connect with shoppers directly. Or more simply – retailers that remove friction from the path to purchase.

It is important for retailers that build open platforms to do so in a tailored way that plays to their brands’ strength with shoppers. Walgreens has done a great job opening up its photo platform in a way that allows third-party developers to leverage the photo pick-up points across the US. 

Amazon is becoming more aggressive in rolling out global tools for brands to own their presence on Amazon.com.

eBay’s historic business model is to act as a facilitator between buyers and sellers, and we are starting to see them leverage PayPal in order to do this in the retail payment sector.

Providers of ‘retail as a service’ will be focused on driving traffic and building tools that enable frictionless conversion. They will be looking to brands to build the narrative with the shopper using those tools. This requires a different kind of skillset on the customer teams for those brands that wish to participate on these platforms. 

Data analytics will be key to building a robust story, and aligning brand and shopper marketing teams will be critical to activating against that data-driven story.

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