7 Retail Trends You Can’t Ignore
If ever there was a time to examine your company’s ecommerce strategy, 2014 is that time. Web trends continue to underscore the importance of a robust platform for businesses that wish to remain relevant in our evolving marketplace. Conversely, those without a strong cyber presence will find themselves on increasingly shaky ground as customers come to expect a certain level of online performance.
So how can you make sure your company gains positive traction in the New Year? Turnstone’s retail genius and ecommerce guru, Christine Lozada, recently shared seven trends she sees gaining speed and importance.
1. It’s no longer a multi-channel strategy — it’s an omni-channel strategy.
Having an in-store and online experience for your customer is no longer enough. Customers demand that retail shopping must be relevant and seamless across every shopping channel. For example, Walmart’s website houses content on nearly every in-store product, enabling customer research and list-making via mobile app.
Not only do these retail powerhouses go out of their way to assist your purchase every step of the way, but they offer personalized marketing messages pop up on smartphones while customers shop. Today’s climate insists that retailers be relevant, personalized and available to the customer – wherever the customer may be.
2. Make peace with the fact that ecommerce spending is only going up.
All indicators point to web spending hitting $200 > billion this year—with consistent 15% year over year growth. That’s a big pie – don’t miss out on your piece! Accept that the world of retail is changing, adjust your plan and endeavor to meet your new goals.
3. Every website must be optimized for mobile. Period.
With mobile phone use skyrocketing, it’s not surprising that mobile shopping is following suit. In fact, according to this Nielson report, “more than a quarter of mobile shoppers say they make purchases more frequently using their mobile devices than they do using their PCs.” In short, failing to optimize your site means lost revenue.
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4. Offer free–and fast–shipping and returns.
Saddling your customers with hefty fees to receive your product – and then again to return it – reduces the likelihood of them completing their order. Instead, make shopping easy and risk-free for your customers by removing barriers and wowing them with your ultra-fast shipping.
Companies like Amazon and eBay are simultaneously experimenting with same-day shipping and raising the bar for the rest of the industry. Aside from Amazon Fresh toying with near-immediate grocery delivery, for $5 an order, eBay will now deliver from local stores to your door within an hour. By removing barriers and convincing buyers that they have nothing to lose, in the end, you’ll win.
5. Customers are looking for personalized and curated shopping experiences—and they’re interested in what’s happening now.
Companies like Grommet, Dollar Shave Club, Craftcoffee, Beauty Bar and Birchbox have honed in on curated shopping, turning the joy if getting a box in the mail into a red hot industry. Not only is it fun for customers to come home to a package of amazing products, but their monthly subscription eliminates an errand, thus providing value on top of sharing terrific products.
Another niche here are highly curated websites like Grommet. These sites feature the most popular items that others are buying now, letting buyers in on trends and offering them a boutique-like experience. Gilt Live is a fantastic example of this, but even bigger brands like Amazon and Walmart are dipping their toes in the water of marketing to real-time trends.
6. Selling consumables and groceries online.
As we mentioned earlier, Lozada expects to see this industry grow in 2014. Companies like Fresh Direct are already doing it in New York City and Delaware, and Amazon is pressing hard to follow suit with fresh items in metro markets. But can it be done on a large scale?
Despite a respectable number of smaller businesses seeking to break in, there remains huge potential for new companies to figure it out. With busy families trying to balance packed calendars and lists of obligations, the idea of delivering groceries to the home certainly has legs.
7. Customers are more connected than ever.
We all know that customers research products at home before making an in-store purchase for high price point items, but there is an increasing number of ‘uber digital shoppers’ that are researching productswhile in the store!
What’s more interesting is over the last three years, there’s been a shift toward the reliance of ratings and reviews (from 41% to 58%)* and away from recommendations from family and friends (from 60% to 46%)*. The takeaway? Make sure you’re serving up great product content and have a robust system to generate ratings and reviews on products. Your customers will thank you by clicking that coveted “order” button.