The evolution of retail ecommerce: From shoppability to consolidation to strategy

From initial shoppability to executing true retail ecommerce strategy, how the retail ecommerce channel developed and where it’s headed next

Prior to 2020, many of the ways consumers now prefer to shop did not even exist yet. 

Shoppability emerged out of pandemic-fueled necessity, with brands and retailers alike seeking ways to create paths to purchase while customers were confined to their homes. This sparked the development of an entirely new ecommerce channel - retail ecommerce - and changed the retail landscape with buy online/pick up in-store (BOPIS), click-and-collect, curbside pickup, and ship-to-home options gaining quick traction.  

Today, the channel has grown in consumer acceptance and adaptation, holding its own as the third ecommerce pillar alongside the established direct-to-consumer and pure play channels. 

Let’s explore the evolution of retail ecommerce, from initial shoppability, to streamlining and consolidating, to running a true retail ecommerce strategy:  

2020: Make everything shoppable to retail

In 2020, the retail landscape witnessed a significant shift due to COVID-19. Brands started to recognize the power of shoppable experiences and the importance of reducing friction in customer journeys. The mantra became clear: make everything shoppable. 

The focus was on converting all clickable assets into retail ecommerce opportunities, bridging offsite brand media and where-to-buy experiences to the digital shelves of retailers, and improving overall customer convenience.

2021-2022: Make everything shoppable with inventory checks and actionable insights

Building on the success of the previous year, 2021 and 2022 marked a period of enhancement. Brands delved deeper into the world of shoppability, prioritizing accurate inventory, more paths to purchase, and actionable insights from these tools. 

Daily inventory scanning became crucial to ensure real-time updates on product availability. Brands aimed to establish paths to purchase across all their retail partners, especially local retailers where shopper loyalty was strong. The best retail ecommerce platforms started to capture click-level insights at the sales level, providing valuable data to improve retail marketing effectiveness. 

The focus was no longer just on making everything shoppable, but making it shoppable efficiently, driven by full-funnel data and insights into retail ecommerce shopper behavior.

2023: Consolidate all shoppable experiences and insights into one unified dashboard

Following the advancements in shoppability through 2022, 2023 brought the focus to creating a more consolidated and streamlined shoppable ecosystem. Brands now recognize the need for reducing fragmentation across their retail ecommerce experiences, with many CPGs migrating to a single platform for all brand media and assets. 

Shifting from multiple shoppable media vendors to one that can deliver a unified shopper experience - backed by a robust data backend - not only creates cost efficiency, but paves the way for future strategic growth.

2024: Strategically increase digital share of wallet at retail 

2024 is projected to bring a strategic shift in how CPGs approach retail ecommerce. Consolidating and unifying all data and experiences will empower brands to operate with the agility and data-driven decision-making previously exclusive to direct-to-consumer brands. 

One-click paths to purchase with accurate inventory are set to become the standard, ensuring effortless transactions at every digital retail shelf. Click-level insights captured on shoppable tools will help brands understand what levers are driving sales, unlocking the ability to improve Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) in-campaign. Custom audiences built on every shoppable experience will give CPGs the power to run highly targeted and optimized marketing campaigns. 

The advancements in retail ecommerce leading up to this point will finally enable brands to strategically increase awareness, encourage trial, secure repeat purchases, and drive sales velocity at retail.

Pear Commerce as a strategic retail ecommerce partner

CPG brands looking to use the retail ecomm channel as a strategic advantage need a partner who can support their growth goals for 2024 and beyond. 

Pear Commerce is the retail ecommerce platform for omnichannel brands, converting shoppable tools into actionable insights that fuel performance marketing. 

Pear’s proprietary technology and best-in-class experiences make it unique in the following for shoppable media and where-to-buy tools: 

  • Shoppable experiences to 3,000+ retailers across 165,000+ locations 
    Pear checks inventory daily (in the slowest instance) at each of those 3,000 retail banners, making it possible to build an accurate path to purchase to each available and in-stock retailers’ ecomm cart.  
  • Fewest possible clicks from brand media and to
    Pear is the only platform that enables true, one-click brand-to-retail experiences from both shoppable media to tools. With each click in the typical retail ecommerce funnel seeing 90%+ drop-off, brands can send 20-30x the shoppers to retail on the same budget with Pear’s one-click solutions.

  • Click-level insights at the sales level to measure retail marketing effectiveness
    Making everything shoppable means everything is clickable. Pear’s insights dashboard is able to track and share shopper behavior at the click-level from all shoppable experiences. Since Pear’s data isn’t batched, brands can learn - down to the UTM-level - what levers of a marketing campaign are driving actual sales at retail.
  • Optimized campaigns of retail ecommerce shoppers
    Because Pear builds paths to purchase at more retailers, more opportunities are created for clicks. This leads to more data being captured to build bigger, more diverse audiences of retail ecommerce shoppers. Pear can integrate with any ad platform to signal when each shoppers take certain actions. Brands can then build audiences on and run campaigns optimized for each stage of the retail ecomm funnel - including purchase - to improve overall marketing performance.

Ready to consolidate your shoppable experiences and strategically capture share of wallet at retail? Get in touch with our team →

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The Retail Ecommerce Playbook by Pear Commerce

Your guide to capturing greater share of wallet at retail.

Five years ago, retail ecommerce didn’t exist. Today, supporting the channel is table stakes for consumer packaged goods brands.

This playbook is designed to guide CPG brands from the stages of awareness to purchase at retail. Whether you’re interested in retail ecommerce as a new channel opportunity or looking to level up existing efforts, The Retail Ecommerce Playbook covers tools, tips, and examples to help your brand succeed.