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E-Commerce's Role in the Future of Retail Franchises

While brick-and-mortar retail is expected to grow, e-commerce's growth rate is anticipated to more than double that of physical retail outlets by 2027??.

E-commerce is shaping the future of retail franchises in profound ways, setting the stage for a new era in consumer shopping and business operations. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the ubiquitous popularity of Amazon, the rise of e-commerce is undeniable. Projections indicate that it will capture 41% of global retail sales by 2027, up significantly from just 18% in 2017. This shift highlights the increasing preference of consumers for online shopping, driven by its convenience, accessibility and the broad range of products available at their fingertips. 

As e-commerce evolves, it is no longer just about selling products online — it has become about engaging customers through personalized, seamless experiences across all channels. The pandemic era saw a spike in low-touch, digital interactions, from QR code menus to app-based ordering. However, as we move forward, there's a clear trend towards more tangible, interactive experiences.

Forward-looking leaders recognize the opportunity to proactively engage customers and create unique yet consistent experiences across various platforms, including B2B, B2C, social commerce, live commerce and even the metaverse. This multi-faceted approach is crucial for driving profitable growth across both B2B and consumer industries.

The future of retail franchises in the e-commerce era hinges on their ability to embrace these changes. Retailers must leverage technology to offer personalized shopping experiences, utilize data analytics to understand consumer behavior better, and integrate omnichannel strategies to ensure a seamless transition between online and offline touchpoints. 

Edible (formerly Edible Arrangements), for example, is an innovative retail brand with over 1,000 brick-and-mortar locations and an online e-commerce hub that can complete deliveries within an hour to the majority of U.S. households. Since the pandemic, which forced the specialty retailer to pivot more towards off-premise sales, the brand has been particularly focused on integrating technology into a memorable customer experience. It recently announced the launch of a NextGen store prototype that aims to combine the best of both worlds: a tech-forward approach in a modern retail space that encourages human interaction. 

“We want Edible to be a community spot, where every visit is an experience tailored to the customer’s needs, whether it’s for a grand celebration or a quick treat,” Edible Founder and CEO Tariq Farid told 1851 Franchise. “The goal is to try and find a way to integrate the personal touch we are known for into a more digital world. That is what the future of Edible is all about.”

Whether it's through online marketplaces or in physical stores, franchise brands need to meet consumers where they are and provide a cohesive brand experience that encourages loyalty and repeat business. This means investing in digital infrastructure, developing new capabilities for digital engagement and continually innovating product offerings and marketing strategies. By doing so, they can not only survive but thrive in the future of e-commerce, capitalizing on the opportunities it presents for growth and expansion.

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