Historically, online commerce experiences were modeled after physical shopping. Now there is evidence the pendulum is swinging the other way, and consumers are expecting online features and innovations in physical stores. Sure enough, brands that are quick to capitalize on this trend will have a competitive advantage over brands that don't.

Physical store experiences have influenced e-commerce in many ways. For example, online checkout, shopping carts, shopping lists, gift registries and product pages are digital adaptations of things consumers expect in physical stores. The shopping-cart icon is widely used online because it's a convenient way to guide buyers through the purchase path. It works online because special technology was developed to place virtual cart items on hold and correctly track inventory.

After years of adaptation and innovation, e-commerce sites are meeting or exceeding many physical shopping experiences. In many cases, product display, information and selection, price comparison, brand experiences, customization, accessibility and convenience of delivery are better than their retail-store equivalents. Furthermore, most offline experiences haven't kept up with online innovations, including customer reviews, guided navigation (the ability to shop by price, color, size, etc.), collaborative filtering (e.g., Amazon's recommendations based on other customers' purchase patterns), social networking, co-creation, community and tagging. However, there's evidence this is beginning to change.

Get the full story at Brandweek