As 2016 draws to a close we’re taking a moment to look ahead to what the New Year will bring for ecommerce and multichannel retailers. Here, contributors from across the industry tell us which trends and technologies they believe will be important in 2017 – and why. We’ll be following up with more predictions in our last newsletter of the year, on Friday, and starting off the New Year with the final post in this series, on January 3.
Steve Rothwell, founder and CTO of Eagle Eye Solutions, focuses on machine learning and the importance of data.
With the phrase Artificial Intelligence (AI), people immediately think of robots, but in its most basic level AI means machine learning, and this is something which has great potential for the retail sector. Machine learning in retail is about getting to know your customer. Collecting customer data allows retailers to profile them based on their habits, and make better, more personalised recommendations. Nobody is harnessing this effectively just yet as the technology, power and understanding has only just come to the fore, but it’s something we’ll start to see making much more impact
In-store data collection
To support personalisation and data collection, there will be more technology in store for this purpose. Geolocation and beacon technology are two major areas of growth. Meanwhile, barcode technology which allows customers to scan products they are interested in to find more sizes, or pair items together will also act as a tool allowing retailers to understand better what their customers are interested in
Consumer data as currency
As a result, we are going to see consumers monetise their personal data. Consumers have come to understand that retailers want to collect their data and in future consumers will increasingly understand its value and trade information on their preferences for discounts, promotions and rewards from retailers
Jamie Merrick, head of industry insights at Salesforce Commerce Cloud says it’s all about shoppers and delivery.
The new shopper journey
The shopping experience is no longer linear, as consumers make a convoluted journey across devices and channels. In order to finally deliver the promise of the fully joined-up single view of the customer and retailer, we’ll see 2017 as the year where mobile, desktop, physical and virtual all link up to become one true ecosystem with interlinked purchase histories and baskets. Tesco is trialling a new system whereby in-store purchases will manifest as receipts you can view on your mobile app and desktop browser. John Lewis has a similar set-up for loyalty card customers. 2017 will see more intelligent approaches to this, linking to payment cards and other generic identifiers.
eCommerce continues to outperform store sales – it’s no secret that this market is growing. Across the globe, the total value of physical goods ordered via digital channels is expected to increase by 15.5 per cent in 2017. Rising wealth, particularly in less developed markets, is driving growth along with greater connectivity. We will see many newcomers placing their first digital order. Although the trend is global, the solutions are local. While shoppers in the UK are used to waiting several days to receive their goods, in built-up areas expectations are changing. Amazon Prime has set a new bar for same-day delivery and app-led businesses like Uber and Deliveroo have put pressure on retailers and brands to offer a similar experience for rapid delivery. Adoption and use will rise significantly in the year ahead.
Patrick Gallagher, chief executive of On the dot – a CitySprint brand – says delivery patterns seen on Black Friday will be reproduced over the year ahead.
‘’This year’s Black Friday saw more shoppers move online, rather than rushing to the high street to get the latest deals. This move to ecommerce gives us a glimpse of what the future of retail looks like. Whilst it is important that bricks and mortar stores continue to do what they do well, the most successful retailers next year will be those that develop their digital offer – everything from mobile optimised sites to innovative ways of syncing up online and offline customer experiences. This means that in 2017, delivery will continue to be an important link in the chain for retailers, as fulfilment increasingly becomes a rare face-to-face interaction between customer and brand.’’