Retail shopping is changing faster than ever before.
Case in point, an increasingly stronger preference for online shopping over its brick and mortar counterpart. In fact, during the 2017 holiday season, 51% planned to spend their budget online, compared to 42% in-store (versus a near 50/50 split the year prior).
We’re also seeing an introduction of new and emerging technologies that are revolutionising how we shop, ultimately making the whole experience simpler, seamless and more efficient as a whole.
And, despite many prophesying the death of retail, data from the British Independent Retailers Association actually shows that more shops were opened than were closed in the first quarter of 2017 (an increase of 414 shops in the first three months of 2017, compared to a net increase of 4 shops for the same period the previous year).
What do you get when you put it all together?
A dramatic transformation that’s quickly changing the retail landscape, derived from a shift in how we shop. A transformation that’s leading to improved shopping experiences for consumers, and better strategies for marketers and business owners who know how to adapt to the changes.
To make sure you’re part of the latter, here are 5 things you need to know about the future of retail shopping.
1: A Mobile Shift
If a single item we cover today sticks, make sure it’s that the retail landscape is facing a mobile shift, a mobile shift characterised by an increasing preference for smartphones over desktops, which comes out of a preference for online shopping versus visiting physical locales.
The beauty of this shift is that we can now shop anywhere, at any time. For example, if we see something we like at a store, albeit at a price or size we can’t afford or wear, we can always take a look online and find something that better suits our liking.
To account for this, you need to make sure you have a couple of things covered. First, that you have an online presence — you can’t sell to mobile users if you don’t sell online in the first place. Second, that you have a responsive website that resizes all content according to the screen it resides in, which delivers optimal experiences for those browsing your store on-the-go.
2: An Omnichannel Approach
Thanks in large part to our preference for mobile— and online—shopping, retailers are realising their customers are opting for an omnichannel approach to shopping that extends past solely shopping online or offline.
Instead, they’re combining both to create a shopping experience that puts more information on their hands, leading to better purchasing decisions.
In other words, consumers are first browsing online and then checking physical stores to ensure they’ve made the right decision; first checking physical stores to find a product they like and then going online to make sure they have
3: Faster Checkouts
A big part of mobile shopping— actually, a big part of online shopping as a whole that’s making its way to brick and mortar stores is an expedient checkout process.
Online, checkouts have been speeding up so much that a purchase today can be made in a couple of seconds; the fewer steps between lading to checkout, the better.
Offline, many stores are adopting self-checkouts to speed things up, and some like Amazon Go are automating the process even more with in-store cameras that use AI to automatically charge shoppers for what they put in their basket, allowing them to completely bypass checking lines and the hassle that comes with them.
The biggest takeaway here is that convenience is key in the retail game, and stores that realise this sooner rather than later will see a larger percentage of repeat and happy shoppers.
4: Use of Emerging Technology
Consumers love emerging technology because they love brand experiences that go above and beyond the norm. Specific for today is one particular technology that’s used to create different ‘realities.’ Even more specific, the technology in question is augmented reality (AR), which transforms the world around you into an enhanced version of itself; one in which the lines between digital and physical blur, and the environment around you is overlaid with a digital interface.
Within the retail industry, AR allows brands to show off their products in a way that’s convenient, unobtrusive and, to be honest, fun. For example, imagine ‘trying’ on an outfit without zipping or buttoning anything, ‘putting’ on a shade of lipstick without applying it to your lips, or ‘testing’ a couch in your new apartment without lifting a single finger.
With AR, all of that becomes a reality. With AR, you can use smart mirrors to overlay clothing or makeup over your body, or test out different themes in your home as you preview and furniture until you find the perfect piece that ties everything together.
5: More Personalised Experiences
Finally, another emerging technology that’s shaping out to be a big part of the future of retail shopping is artificial intelligence (AI), which is being used to create personalised experiences that go beyond merely using a name in an email.
For example, think of Amazon or Netflix. Thanks to AI and machine learning, these brands can analyse their users’ behaviours and recommend products (Amazon) or movies (Netflix) their users will like the most.
Along the same lines, with this type of personalisation, retailers can analyse purchasing and browsing behaviours and recommend products their users are more likely to want and buy.
Let’s Take a Second Look
To say that retail is changing is putting it lightly. Rather, it’s facing a transformation that’s making the whole shopping experience more convenient, both for consumers and retailers themselves.
While consumers are seeing personalised shopping experiences that lead to faster and more favourable checkouts, retailers are gaining new tools and technologies used to grease the sales funnel and give their shoppers the extra nudge needed for them to convert.
As part of these changes, there are a couple of things that stand above the rest, such as the 5 things we covered today that will help you prepare for the future of retail shopping:
- Retail is seeing a mobile shift
- That requires an omnichannel approach
- With faster checkouts
- And use of emerging technology
- To deliver more personalised experiences
Best of luck!
Sabrina Sedicot is a content writer for Appnova, a Creative web design agency based in London that specialises in fashion eCommerce.
She writes on a variety of subjects that range from emerging trends to SEO and PPC.