Wayfair CEO predicts 1/3 of all retail sales will be online

Currently, online sales hover around 7% of the total. But with 73 million millennials taking over the coveted 20-40 year-old spending space, it's quite possible that he'll be right. 

Consider, too, that millenials are 250% more likely than baby boomers to shop online.

"Shopping can be both fun and fast," writes Niraj Shah -- WayFair CEO. "Driving several miles to a big-box store in hopes that they might have just what you are looking for is neither." 

This is pulled from a recent WSJ article (11/25/14) penned by Shah titled: "Wake Up Brick-and-Mortar Retailers."  Wayfair is one of the world's largest internet destinations for home furnishings with more than 2.5 million active customers.  And it took them less than 4 years to get to that number.  So, even if he's far off with his prediction, he's worth a read.

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Three more gems from the article to whet your appetite:

"Outside of fashion and accessories, there aren't many fun brick-and-mortar retail experiences these days."

"While people are constantly looking for inspiration about what to buy, less and less of that is happening in stores."

"As a result, retailers are losing a critical connection to shoppers, and in the process have less influence over where they shop."

Whether you agree with him or not, consider these quips a helpful check-list. Narij calls out fun, inspiration, and influence as keys to controlling the customer experience. OK. Now, what are you doing to heighten these shopper hot buttons? Lots, I bet. And playing to the strengths of your physical surroundings ... there is so much you can do inside your store to engage shoppers that you can't do online. 

That, to me, is what's so exciting about brick-and-mortar these days. These same millennials are also digital natives, who are totally comfortable with touch technology. So, introducing iPads and other interactive screens into the store environment is totally cool with them. They're also serial multi-taskers used to constant movement and motion. So, they don't necessarily prefer to shop online at home. It's just more convenient and immediate. Often times, it's just a default for lack of a good reason or reminder to shop in-store.

Thus, the ongoing challenge for offline retailers is to stop looking back over their shoulder at etailers like Wayfair.  It's to stay focused on what makes the in-store experience "fun", "inspirational", and "influential".

Yes, technology plays a role in all aspects of the omni-channel. But it's the personal touch and human interaction that online can't replicate.  This is what Macy's, Apple, Staple's and other great omni-channel retailers understand so well.  They never lose sight of the fact that we're humans first and technology comes second.

Here's another link to the original article: