As ecommerce platforms extend to cover all channels, how can retailers ensure that customers benefit from this reach and integration?
When you think about all the advances in technology, big data and online shopping, there’s never been a better time to be a consumer. High street bricks-and-mortar brands, along with their online counterparts, are constantly looking for and experimenting with new ways to attract shoppers and build customer relationships. In the driver’s seat? Today’s consumers – an on-demand generation of shoppers who are more interested in experiences and engaging with brands rather than simply buying products.
If you are developing an ecommerce strategy to position your business for success, you can’t do it without giving some thought to what shopping in the future will look like. We can assume it will be innovative, but in what way?
The consumer already wants to interact on his or her own terms, online, through social media or in a virtual store. This on-demand generation is looking for fresh ways to develop and manage relationships, focusing on methods that are transparent and tailored to its needs. Customers also expect companies to remember them, make recommendations based on their past purchases and give them a variety of personalised options. And if they like your suggestions, they could very well become your next brand ambassadors, marketing your products to other potential consumers through sites such as Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat.
In the store of the future, shopping venues could change dramatically to address the consumers’ desire for more personalisation. For example, some companies might fuse shopping and entertainment to create a virtual space where consumers can shop while watching their favourite shows or playing a popular game. This “shoppertainment” model might use facial recognition and motion sensor technology to personalise ads and recommendations. It could also invite customers to interact with bricks-and-mortar sales agents, and experience products and interactions in 3D without ever leaving the comfort of their couches.
The store of the future will not be handcuffed by traditional buying processes and places. Consider the implications of embedding the purchase process inside a consumer product experience. Picture a world where internet-connected products generate user data. A toothbrush might send a subscription auto-renewal for a replacement product after being used 200 times. Or imagine a connected home with a refrigerator that tracks real-time usage data and automatically places grocery store orders so milk and eggs never run out. We call this the “Commerce of Things”.
Consumers are already anticipating this evolution to the Commerce of Things. Every business, regardless of what product you make, will have the ability or even an obligation to have a “digital business”. For example, you could be selling hardware or physical products as a service, or creating an ecosystem of apps that enhance the value of your product and give you another connection point to your customers. No business will be immune from this challenge.
Clearly, the scenarios for the store of the future are endless and interesting to think about. And while it might be difficult to predict exactly what online shopping will look like, we do know this for certain – it will involve much more than point-and-clicking. Discover some of our store-of-the-future concepts at http://bit.ly/DR_SOTF_Webinar
By Marco Vergani, Vice President and General Manager EMEA, Digital River [IRDX VDRV]