The Future of Retail: Integrating E-Commerce Innovations in 2024

Retail clothing display integrating e-commerce for enhanced shopping experience

We know that retail can help e-commerce, but can e-commerce help retail?

Before we get into that, let’s start with one (sadly) controversial fact:

E-commerce is not retail’s enemy.

Before you say it, e-commerce is not the killer of the high street. And it does not take customers out of stores. I’ve personally helped introduce some e-commerce advice to struggling retail stores and see them completely turn things around to the point that they made more money than ever before with much less expenditure on traditional marketing methods.

E-commerce is easy and convenient – that’s all! Customers have a new way to shop and it isn’t going anywhere, so why not make your store just as easy and maybe even more convenient to use?

Analytics are the Foundation of E-Commerce Success

Analytics. Analytics. Analytics. This could be an article by itself because of how important it is. There are a lot of metrics in e-commerce and every metric has 2-3 different acronyms for some reason.

Some are useful. Some aren’t. Some are even misleading if used incorrectly… Let’s look at one of them, e-commerce conversion rate:

(total order count / by total visitor count) x 100 = the % of site visitors that purchased

But how is that relevant to stores? They don’t have access to analytics tools.

Here’s How To Apply E-Commerce CRO To Retail:

  1. Calculate your retail store’s conversion rate.
  2. A manual tally counter costs €2.
  3. Buy one, keep it in your pocket, and every time a visitor comes into your shop click it to count your foot traffic. Better yet, the pen and paper you already have is free and does the exact same job.
  4. At the end of the day, divide the number of sales by the number of visitors, multiply the result by 100 and there you go!

You just got your Store’s conversion rate and it costs you €0-€2. Also, now you have a benchmark metric to measure everything else you do against.

Congratulations, you just took your first step into analytics!

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PRO Tip When Integrating E-Commerce Analytics Into Retail

Exercise EXTREME CAUTION with this. Don’t make the same mistake that too many e-commerce teams and CEOs do, and use that as your primary metric for success.

Here’s why: 10% of 1,000 people is great… but 2% of 10,000 is twice as many

“But but but, 10% is higher than 2%!!!”

Yes, a high conversion rate is good but more customers is better… Though it’s still useful to know where you already stand on that metric.

The flexibility in the value of this metric shows that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Be wise and know that metrics are metrics. They exist to serve a business’s goal, they shouldn’t BECOME a business’s goals…

Nowhere was this better demonstrated than when a start-up CEO I consulted with told me that she wanted a 9% E-Commerce Conversion Rate… That’s around what Amazon gets… Needless to say, it didn’t happen and never will.

If you don’t understand a metric, that’s ok, but don’t set unachievable targets that won’t help your business grow!

Online payment with credit card for integrating e-commerce innovations in retail

Integrate Diverse Payment Options

Cash is no longer king. Credit/debit cards are an absolute necessity, but you’re already doing both of those… Right…? So what else is there? Let’s start with the lowest-hanging fruit.

Tip: Google what the most popular E-Commerce payment method is in your country and see if they have a retail option. That’s it!

It could be Apple Pay, Google Pay, Venmo, Klarna, Affirm, Swish, AfterPay, Splitit, whatever. It doesn’t matter. They’re extremely cheap and turn visitors into customers. Try ONE and see what happens.

This next part is particularly important for shops with a higher price point. You need to offer split payments if you want to grow your customer base overnight.

Tip: not everyone can afford a €100 impulse purchase, but most people can probably find a spare €10 per month… So why not offer split payments on orders over a certain value? That €100 item you sell is a lot more affordable when it can be paid for in 10x monthly €10 payments!

You also need to offer deferred payments so people can buy today and pay after their next payday – especially in the run-up to crucial buying seasons, e.g. Christmas.

Great, what else? Well, if your store is in an area with tourists, why not offer a tax-free payment option? Here’s how it works:

Process of tax refund in retail stores

Attracting Tourists and Maximizing New Payment Options

Okay, fantastic! But maybe you’re not getting a lot of tourists, so how does this help? By GETTING TOURISTS!

Reach out to these tax-free, tourist-friendly platforms and ask to be featured in their next newsletter, SoMe post, homepage content update, and you’d be surprised how many will say “Okay, sure!” and push tourists to your store FOR FREE.

Extra tip: Don’t just add a new payment option and hope for the best… PUSH IT! Once your new payment option is live, make it as visible as possible! Show the payment gateway’s logo at your checkout. Post it everywhere on SoMe and add the new payment option logo to your storefront, or better yet, hanging from the bottom of the A-frame sign in front of it!

How Social Shopping Can Help Integrating E-Commerce Innovations Into Retail

What exactly is social shopping? To put it simply, social shopping is your way of selling online without any additional infrastructure.

Here’s how quickly you can get started:

  1. Look at the social media platforms that you’re already using which offer it (for free).
  2. Get a smartphone for your shop and try live streaming (…for free).
  3. Encourage your staff to use it as an extra weapon in your arsenal when store traffic is slow (that’s free, by the way)…

Did I mention social shopping is free?
Facebook and other platforms offer live streaming and the option to record live streams, e.g. if you showcase a new collection or brand launch. All it takes is a sales associate (or local influencer) with some confidence to livestream from your store!

You can now take orders online, launch a new collection better than any of your competitors, and even sell when foot traffic is non-existent, or when your store is closed and customers are at home on their phone!

By the way, in case I didn’t mention it before… it’s FREE! The question isn’t: “Why should I do that?“, it’s “Why shouldn’t I?

Retail owner using social listening to promote their product online, without existing e-commerce website

Content Is King (of Engagement)

Look at your favorite website, or better yet, the last website you ordered from, and see what convinced you to buy. Was it before/after images? Wasit convincing reviews? A compelling blog? An email with a promotion? A product unboxing?

Whatever it was, try to work out what did it for you and see if you can integrate it into your store. It just takes a little initiative to bring that digital content into the real world.

None of this is new to you, so why not ask a visual merchandising expert (or cheat a little and ask ChatGPT) how to use it in your store? I’ll even give you the prompt template for ChatGPT:

What would be the retail version of ________, and how could I quickly and effectively integrate it into my store to increase sales?

Using Local Search Ads for Visibility

 I guarantee you that you’ve clicked on one of these in the past few days. The name might be new, but the principle isn’t. This is what they look like:

Search engine results showcasing e-commerce Mary Jane shoes Google advertizing options

You can learn how to set these up by watching a 5-10 min YouTube video and it could seriously increase store traffic. You only pay after your advert gets a click (called “PPC advertising”), and even a small advert budget puts you above your competitors who aren’t running these ads.

Tip: Do it. It wouldn’t benefit Google if this process was technically difficult, so it isn’t. Now to patronise you with a little saying you’ve probably heard before:

if you only do what you’ve always done, you’ll only get what you’ve always got.

Throw 50€/$/£ at a PPC campaign and see what happens. Even if you mess up, you won’t lose any sleep over how cheap it is! There are also plenty of experts who can help you set these up. Add some SEO and seasonal keyword strategy, and voila – your sales skyrocketed!

The Power of Influencer Marketing

I briefly touched on this before via Social Selling, but it’s huge. You can work with local influencers who appeal to your target demographic to showcase your store.

Tip: Don’t believe a word influencers say. It’s a sad truth, but it benefits them to lie. Total follower count, impressions, etc. and other vanity metricsare there to drive up their value and collaboration price.

Due diligence is your friend and it’s painfully easy to perform. If an influencer highlights their 1,000,000 followers but their last 3 posts only received an average of 100 likes and 0 comments, then they’re not going to add any value to your business.

E-commerce influencer creating engaging content for retail promotion

Encouraging Product Sampling and Testing

Do the one thing e-commerce will never be able to replicate and let people physically try your products out immediately!

It’s amazing how many shops expect first-time visitors to pay a high price for a product without allowing them to try it out… so guess what? They don’t try it out, and they don’t buy it.

This is very basic. You already know stores that do this well. Look at LUSH, they base their entire business model on it. I can’t imagine anybody who would buy their products online without first having tested/purchased them in-store. Their stores will never go fully online. And why should they? I understand that this might not work for all stores, but why not try?

Extra tip: Don’t make people ask. Actively encourage them to try by already making the option readily available, e.g. samples in your store that are visible as soon as the customer opens the door.

Assorted sample cosmetic products highlighted for online retail beauty segment

Rethinking Physical Retail Infrastructure

Ask yourself one brutal question: do you really need a high-rent, physical store right now?

For some, the obvious answer is yes and that’s fine. But what if, instead of a store that’s open from 10 am – 6 pm, 5-6 days a week, all year round with all the overheads that come with it… you only opened when you knew you were going to sell? Well, you can.

The good thing about e-commerce is that websites are open 24/7. Your shop can’t offer that and it doesn’t need to.

So, consider creating an appointment system for service-based businesses, or focusing more on personalized social selling events until you’re getting a high level of traffic and customers to justify a store, or consider limited opening hours to create a sense of exclusivity… the list of options to streamline goes on.

Maybe it’s time to take a cold hard look in your shop-front window and ask yourself “Is this an asset or a liability?”

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the best approach for any business is to use an Omnichannel (Retail and E-Commerce) approach.

Why not have a website that offers Click And Collect, Reserve In Store, or any of the other options that combine traditional retail with the power of the Internet?

If you can maximize your reach and justify the expenditure, then why not give it a shot?

You owe it to yourself.


Adam McAreavy has been conquering the digital commerce world for the past 9+ years and he’s seen it all! He’s an expert in navigating any E-Commerce terrain.

Adam has consulted for giants and built success stories across industries working for sustainability champions like KEVIN.MURPHY, Trollbeads, Nordgreen, Cam Cam Cph… Now, he shares his wisdom through articles that pack a punch. Need E-Commerce insights? This is your guy.

When he’s not launching B2C E-Commerce for billion-dollar enterprises and start-ups alike, you can find Adam doing DIY or swimming in Scandinavian fjords.

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