No-line commerce represents the highest level of development in e-commerce at present. All available online and offline sales channels are networked with each other in terms of information technology and form an integrated environment along with the marketing channels.

The behavior-relevant basics of no-line trading are primarily related to the use of the internet and mobile commerce. The focus here is on information acquisition and individual product information. The actual purchasing process is a mixture of multi- and cross-channel: Thus, no-line commerce presupposes a certain consumer behavior on the part of the customer, in which, unlike omnichannel, the customer no longer perceives the boundaries of the individual sales channels in his subconscious (no-line). For the customer there is no separation of the virtual (e-commerce) and the real world (retail); for him or her, there is only the shopping experience.

Customers no longer differentiate between channels or making purchases online or offline. Rather, they are looking for different ways to access their shop: on the Internet, via smartphone – or even via the retail store in the city center.

Prof. Dr. Gerrit Heinemann, Hochschule Niederrhein

The goal of no-line commerce is to ensure that consumers can easily switch from offline to online and vice versa at every stage of the information and purchasing process, without any impairment of the shopping experience. Smartphone and tablet support him or her and provide him with the necessary information.

Challenge for retailers: The customer researches and decides on a product ‘in the field’. His or her decisions are often based on price and are usually detached from online or offline channels. As a result, however, the retailer loses relevance to the potential customer; in the worst case, the retailer is merely perceived as a PoS. Reason: Information is available on the Internet in greater volume and thus provides the greatest benefit for the customer – for the provider, this information will, therefore, be the most vital part of his value chain in the future. This is the only way for him as a provider to increase his customer reach. The classic ‘regular’ customer will no longer exist in the future.

No-Line-Commerce is still product dependent at the time of publication of this article.

The no-line strategy at present shows that the customer conducts an online research for certain products before completing the purchase process at the PoS, for example. Online information, offline purchase (or vice versa) applies to consumer electronics and computer hardware, for example. In addition, the online verification of the availability of products in local shops is becoming a practice of no-line commerce.
If the customer is interested in music, books, and fashion, the Internet is the main medium for research and for the subsequent purchasing process – cosmetics and shoes, on the other hand, are preferably examined at a stationary location and are usually also purchased there.

You can also find more information about e-commerce at the following articles Last Mile and Loyalty to the Online Shop.

Teaser image: Author: Jason Howie / license: CC BY 2.0

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