The goal of digital transformation in any industry is to deliver on customer experience and business value while changing the long term game. When it comes to retail, digital trends evolve both sides of ecommerce: Delighting consumers with personalization and offering online retailers new, impactful ways to connect with customers.
People Choose to Shop Online Because…
According to consumer research, the top reason for shopping online
is the ability to shop any time they want
The next four reasons, in order, are:
- the ability to compare prices
- access to lower prices
- saving time
- ability to shop from home
With convenience and price as King, online shopping champions the mission of digital transformation. This is old news. When it comes to sustainability, retailers can’t afford to be short-sighted. What can you do–or what do you need to know–in order to meet customer needs and grow your business in the current (and future) complex, and often vicious, digital retail marketplace?
Like any other business decision, start at the source, work through the use cases, define success metrics.
1. Have an Omnichannel Approach
Customers expect smart integration in addition to a synchronized shopping experience. But most retailers lag behind delivering on these requirements. Roughly half of all online stores build experiences that allow shoppers to move seamlessly between devices. Retailers can get ahead of many competitors by fulfilling this basic need.
A fluid presence might include having a Facebook shop as well as your main (mobile-friendly) website, and an Instagram profile to help potential customers find you. Nurturing an email list is another great way to connect and establish brand preference with past and future customers.
Social and mobile optimization is great, ”but wait, there’s more.” Chatbots serve as another proactive communication channel for supplying consumers with more personalized interaction options. Every customer has unique preferences and purchase behavior patterns. Maintaining seamless contact and providing a platform for meaningful connection with as many customers as possible, regardless of channel, is essential for sustainability.
2. Get on the Move and in the Conversation
Two-thirds of online shoppers buy with mobile devices. You MUST provide a mobile-friendly, responsive site, regardless of your current store app status. Progressive web apps can offer the best of both worlds, with lower development costs.
Mobile-friendly isn’t just for customers. The ability to run your entire operation from your phone isn’t a small-time benefit for retail business owners. The Shopify app, for example, continues to transform the industry and win the hearts of retail businesses worldwide.
Voice shopping is another craveable convenience. For many, once they become familiar with conversation, it quickly becomes habit. Ever tried to open your front door with your car remote? It’s like that. Amazon reports that shoppers’ use of Alexa tripled during the 2018 holiday season. TechCrunch predicts a “massive increase” in voice commerce in the next three years. With over 22 million voice buyers in the U.S. in 2019, smart speakers integration could play a vital role in ecommerce strategy.
3. Offer Global Ecommerce Solutions (it’s Not Just US)
Here’s some perspective on the potential around global ecommerce:
A quarter of the world population (1.92 billion people) are expected
to shop online this year.
The percentage of global online retail sales was 7.4% in 2015, but is
expected to reach 17.5% percent by 2021.
Two years from now, the value of global ecommerce sales are predicted
to reach $4.87 trillion USD.
E-commerce customers live everywhere on the planet. Which is why platforms like Shopify handle all the cross-border business challenges from day one. These chores include the manual management of currency conversion, language, taxes, and other international rules and restrictions.
4. Delight and Target with Social
Simple. Fresh. Creative. Social media is past the point of saturation, so stepping back to build a strategy around real brand activation and providing actual solutions, is what comes out on top.
Snapchat, for instance, offers self-serve tools that allow users to create their own Augmented Reality Snapchat ads. AR Lenses are fully integrated with the platform’s tools to optimize reach and targeting. This also yields surprisingly robust analytics.
Snapchat notes that 40% of their users interact with AR experiences,
daily, for at least three minutes.
How can ecommerce platforms like Shopify accelerate social initiatives? For marketing rookies, it’s immensely valuable. These platforms make it easier for everyone, even inexperienced marketers, to place targeted Facebook ads. The main benefit is from being able to manage their entire campaign without leaving the Shopify environment.
5. Make it Personal
Reaching out to connect with your audience across all channels is great, but not enough. Shoppers want to see informed personalized content. In a 2018 survey, 74% of marketers reported a “strong” or “extreme” impact on their relationship with customers as a result of personalization. While almost 9 out of 10 marketers agreed that customers expect to see material personalized to them.
Almost 2/3 of customers express willingness to give personal information in exchange for access to loyalty points and rewards. This is another area of opportunity for savvy retailers (and marketers in general).
Most companies still segment their audience in the same way they’ve been doing for years. When more businesses learn how artificial intelligence can address customers on an individual level–this will change. Machine learning algorithms tailor user experience to individual users, from landing pages to product offers to navigation. Safe to say it’s a bit more strategic than using the customer’s name in a subject line.
6. Smart Payments Should be Your Standard
Online shopping is convenient, but the online environment also lends itself to distraction. Nearly 70% of consumers abandon their shopping carts. They may click away from your payment page to read a text, check a Facebook notification, if their credit card information doesn’t autofill–or because it’s not easily readable in their native language. Retailers can’t eliminate distractions. But it’s crucial to ensure the efficiency and clarity, especially throughout the payment flow.
At a minimum, your payment options should:
- Include integrated mobile wallet functionality
- Have a cross-border payment processing system that reads the customer’s URL
- Provide a payment page in their own language and currency.
If you have a physical location, contactless payment options prevent you from losing customers who don’t want to wait in a line.
7. Drop Ship, Keep Moving
Even sellers in extremely rural or remote areas can still run a retail business. Because all you need is a mobile phone or laptop. Online retailers offer items for sale, and the manufacturer ships directly to the customer. Manufacturers realize an average of 18% higher profits when they sell through drop shippers because the retailer (who doesn’t need to store items) can offer a supplier’s full range of products.
Meanwhile, retailers immediately benefit with no need to prepay for inventory or provide any storage space for the items they sell. As a result, customers enjoy a broad range of affordable products. Once again, going back to Shopify, it’s possible even for retail rookies to break into the business with the set infrastructure the platform creates. Proprietary app, Oberlo, is one example of how this works. With the app, it’s possible to vet suppliers on behalf of drop shipping sellers.
Let Your Customers Choose Their Own Adventure
Retail brands must evolve with what customers want and should pay attention to ecommerce trends that deliver on these expectations.
It doesn’t matter if your customer engages with your physical store or your web app. Or if your customer uses Alexa or their phone to complete transactions. What does matter is that they CAN. When you clear obstacles and offer multiple channels and avenues for your customers, you promote seamless, personal customer connections with your retail brand.