What does the future hold for internet retailing over the next couple of years? This is my last article for Internet Retailing so, below, I've highlighted some of the key trends that I see at the moment:
- Multi-channel integration. Online consumers are getting ever more demanding, and ever more intolerant when retailers fail to join up their multi-channel dots. A seamless cross-channel experience, driven by a single view of the customer, will become a core requirement for success in the years ahead.
- Mobile. The potential of mobile as a new channel for retailers has received much of the industry's attention over the last few months. The ability for customers to easily price check, find the latest coupons and deals and purchase online from their mobile phone — even in-store — is going to lead to significant changes in shopping habits.
- Mobile - again. One of the most interesting developments is likely to be the way in which mobile will link into retailers' multi-channel strategies as a way to connect up the different channels through technologies such as mobile barcodes, coupons and NFC.
- Delivery. Fulfilment and delivery service providers have responded well over the last few months, introducing ever more sophisticated delivery options. 'One size fits all' is no longer enough.
- Personalisation. Everything from personalised on-site recommendation engines to tightly targeted email campaigns will be key to delivering growth as internet retailing becomes ever more competitive in the years ahead.
- Choice. Whether its offering a wide range of ways to pay, or options for the frequency of marketing emails, consumers are set to expect online retailers to use information gained from previous purchases and site visits to tailor the offering to meet their particular needs.
- Social media. On the one hand, social media has now become quite entrenched. On the other, however, an understanding of the ways in which social media can be leveraged to aid business decisions is still in its early days and is set to deliver significant commercial advantage to those who gain the greatest expertise.
- Email. Still very much a key sales driver, and one that internet retailers still need to be investing in and making a key development priority.
What have I missed? Please do add your opinion of the key drivers for internet retailing in the next two years in the comments — we'd love to hear your point of view.• From next week, I will be working full time on my own publication, Near Field Communications World. I hope that many of you will keep in touch, and help to fuel the debate over the potential of NFC technology in retailing...