The rise of the connected consumer is transforming the retail experience.
We are now in an era of retailing that many are calling ‘omni-channel’. Smart mobile devices and superfast connectivity are taking the shopping experience beyond the high-street or a fixed-line internet connection, and retailers will need to react to the opportunities caused by these behavioural changes.
We are at a technology-driven tipping point for consumer shopping as we know it and that means retailers need to sharpen up their strategies if they want to succeed.
Here are five trends I believe will impact 21st century retailers.
1. The new retail purchase cycle
The internet, social media and mobile technology have torn up the traditional linear ‘path to purchase’ used by marketers to target consumers. Shoppers use PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones to discover and research products. They may research online and buy in-store at a trusted or favourite brand or they may look and feel the product in-store and buy online. There are now many points and many different ways along this cycle for retailers to tap into the discovery and purchase journey of the connected consumer.
2. Any device, anytime, anywhere
Online shopping is no longer a static experience confined to the home laptop or PC. Tablets and smartphones mean we can, and do, shop online anywhere and anytime. Currently tablets are still largely used at home for online shopping and research shows that consumers who research items on their tablets tend to buy from that device rather than in-store. What is interesting is how mobile devices are changing our bricks and mortar shopping habits when we’re out and about on the high street or at a mall. Research shows that 80% of shoppers use their mobile device in-store to enhance their shopping experience and 39% use it while in-store to search for product reviews.
3. The in-store experience
Which begs the question, what does the future hold for the physical retail store? Many retail brands will downsize their high street footprint for reasons of efficiency and cost, but there is most definitely still a vital role for the store to play. There is the opportunity to provide more of an experience in-store – entertainment, special offers, superb one-to-one customer service. The store needs to be an integral part of any omni-channel strategy where retailers provide a seamless experience to shoppers both online and offline.
Technology enables retailers to deliver a much more personalised experience to the consumer. We’re already seeing what some call ‘mass customisation’ where you can, for example, go online and customise the design of your Nike trainers. When we look to the future with technologies such as 3D printing, there will be the potential for retailers to deliver an astonishing level of personalisation and customisation on what would previously be considered mass produced items. Augmented and virtual reality technology, such as Google Glass, also offer amazing ways to enhance the digital retail experience in the future.
5. Fulfilment and payment
Both traditional retailers and online stores are advancing with ever more rapid and personalised fulfilment methods – from ‘click and collect’ style services to same day delivery. Payment methods are also evolving. Cards have overtaken cash on the high street and mobile is the next payment battleground with consumers expressing a desire for an easy and secure way to use their mobile devices for faster and seamless ways to pay both online and offline.
(extract from article by O.Swantee)