The Hyper-Scalable Era Is Here: Our Expert Panel Discuss What This Means for Retailers – and How Your Business Can Thrive

The last two years have propelled us into a new era of e-commerce – the Hyper-Scalable Era – defined by a rapid, consumer-led expectation for speed, choice and novel retail experiences. Retailers must act fast to meet these demands, but how?

We hosted a live webinar with a panel of brilliant e-commerce experts to answer this, as well as discuss what the Hyper-Scalable Era means as a whole for today’s retailers. 

Hosted by Chloe Thomas of the eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast, and joined by: 

Cate Trotter, Founder of Insider Trends

Bob Phibbs, CEO of Retail Doctor

Meghan Stabler, VP of Global Product Marketing, Communications & International Marketing at BigCommerce, and 

Sara Arthrell, CMO at Brightpearl

The panelists discussed how retail as we know it has transformed, and where merchants should now channel their focus to excel in the Hyper-Scalable Era

Didn’t catch the live discussion? We’ve rounded up some key takeaways:

#1 This is a consumer-led shift, so find consumers where they are

The Hyper-Scalable Era is undeniably consumer-driven, and the research backs this hunger for change – 59% of US shoppers say they prefer to shop via non-traditional channels (such as through social media, games and live streaming) and 65% wish retailers would make that easier for them.

All the experts agreed that consumers are driving this shift, and so retailers must be well equipped to meet them where they are – and to quickly adapt to whatever they do next. In this respect, getting to know your customer base on a granular level is critical in order to find them and give them what they want in this multi-channel space. 

Wherever the shopper is, merchants need to find them and convert them, and the technology for that is readily available. It’s exciting because adapting is no longer an option – it’s here and it’s now, and the customers are already there.” Meghan Stabler, BigCommerce

#2 Retail can be integrated into anything, anywhere 

Consumers want to buy where they are – while playing games, on messaging apps, social media platforms and entertainment channels. Consequently, merchants must be prepared to sell anywhere, through any medium. As Cate explained, retailers should see themselves almost as media companies; prepared to entertain, inform and engage, as well as sell. 

These non-traditional selling methods – the immersive, socially-based retail experiences – are proven to increase dwell times, conversion, average spend and return rate. Typically, every time digital retail gets more experiential, it sells more.” Cate Trotter, InsiderTrends.

#3 Be prepared to integrate both the in-store and online experience

Adapting to the Hyper-Scalable Era doesn’t simply mean neglecting the traditional routes, but ensuring your online operations are in harmony with what goes on in your physical stores. E-commerce has rocketed during Covid, but as Bob explains, shoppers are still keen to resocialize in person. For this reason, ensuring a streamlined, integrated retail experience that flows from the store to online – while instilling a sense of human connection at all times – is vital.

There’s a lot to be done in the physical space that tech can help with – so long as the focus is always on customer experience. Smart retailers know that.” Bob Phibbs, Retail Doctor

#4 Traditional ERPs are too rigid – the Hyper-Scalable Era calls for flexible, agile growth

As consumer behaviors continue to evolve, the focus for merchants should be on having the means to adapt quickly and flexibly. A traditional, one-size-fits-all ERP, adequate in the 2000s, is now far too rigid in this age of frequent, ‘unprecedented’ change where agility is key.  

Sarah explains that multi-channel retail operations will naturally get more complex in the Hyper-Scalable Era. Merchants should seek a flexible tech solution – one that streamlines and automates all processes into one central system, and offers quick and easy integration with new channels and marketplaces, as and when their business needs it. 

With this supportive structure in place, retailers can enjoy the freedom to grow and adapt as the retail world evolves, without having to juggle numerous processes and spreadsheets to keep up.

“If you’re not benefitting from connectivity and spend too much time on manual processes, you’ll be missing out on the opportunity to better your business. Talk to your tech vendors as they’ll definitely help you. Figure out what’s available to you, and if something isn’t? Ask if they can build it.”  Sarah Arthrell, Brightpearl

#5 Don’t be intimidated by the Hyper-Scalable Era – you can start right now with what you have

All this talk of TikTok, the metaverse and in-game purchases might have some merchants running for the hills – but the reality of the Hyper-Scalable Era isn’t intimidating. Wherever your business is, you can start right now with what you already have.

Additionally, don’t make the mistake of assuming the Hyper-Scalable Era doesn’t affect your customer demographic – trust that people of every age value better, more connected experiences. Though younger people are more likely to use a platform like TikTok, it’s the older age groups who have connected cars and shop through Alexa, for example.

Don’t fret about ‘the metaverse’ – focus on what you can do today and do it well. Make new content, figure out your personas, integrate your online with your physical store and start now. In the end, this is all about doing what’s best for your customer.” Meghan Stabler, BigCommerce

To catch up on the discussion in full, click to watch the complete webinar now.