2015 has already been an exciting year for retail innovation, with everyone from large brands to small merchants thinking of new ways to connect with their digital consumers. The past few years have been marked with radical change in the retail space, with the owners and operators of physical stores searching for new ways to stay relevant. This is particularly apparent with the rise of a new hyper-connected kind of consumer, ready to adopt a more personalized, synchronized, multi-device and omni-channel approach to shopping. Add in the rapid rise of mobile commerce, and consumers no longer just have the ability to browse and buy anytime, but now they can do it from anywhere as well.
Retailers now face the challenge of how best to adapt to this landscape and keep pace with evolving expectations of the modern shopper:
The Blurring of the Physical and Digital
Today’s customer arrives armed with consumer reviews and recommendations from peers, as well as the option to go home and purchase online. Online has influenced the expectations that shoppers bring to the store, but physicality of a retail floor still retains its importance, with an estimated 90 percent of all purchases still taking place in-store. As retailers rapidly adopt new strategies to meet the expectations of digitally influenced shoppers, they are learning to take the best of online, and bring it offline.
The Rise of Mobile
To say mobile is an important component of modern life might be an understatement, considering how ubiquitous it has become in people’s daily routines, a device that’s with them from the moment they wake up until they go to bed at night. Mobile also serves as the main screen in people’s content consumption habits, accounting for an astounding 60 percent of digital media time in the U.S.
As a result of this always-on, mobile-first mindset, consumers have developed a new set of expectations around how they transact through these devices. Shopping and commerce more broadly, can now happen at any moment and from any location, creating a host of new opportunities and challenges as companies look to engage with consumers.
The Importance of Social
Akin to the push shopping made onto the World Wide Web, digital commerce is moving beyond the walls of brand and retail sites, and onto other frequently used platforms. Social media is quickly becoming a new frontier for online commerce, with new tools being developed that allow users to receive expertly curated product suggestions, buy and sell with their friends and seamlessly checkout – all without leaving their feed. The model for engagement is no longer bringing customers into your store, but rather taking your retail experience to the places where they’re already spending their time.