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PREDICTIONS 2020 Shopping across channels

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We’re running a series of predictions about how the ecommerce and multichannel retail industry will develop in 2020 and beyond. Today we’re focusing on how the way shoppers buy is set to change

More customers choosing mobile

“Mobile is increasingly the preferred choice for consumers when it comes to shopping, with early holiday season reports stating that 67% of fashion traffic was coming from mobile devices in 2019. Now, customers are able to easily complete purchases while on the go, building the pressure for retailers to better reach, communicate with, and understand their customers in real-time – especially given the mounting industry uncertainty that is seeing store closures and Brexit concerns regularly hitting the headlines. 

“To secure their success in 2020 retailers need to make sure they are keeping up with the changing needs of their shoppers, offering seamless experiences that deliver across all devices. Looking ahead, retailers should implement audience-based strategies and look to customer data platforms (CDPs) to help them holistically understand their customers. CDPs can give retailers the tools to collect, correlate, and translate customer data in real-time, empowering them to keep up with fast-paced customers, throughout the entire purchase journey.”

Lindsay McEwan, VP and managing director, EMEA at Tealium 

The rise of in-store technology

“As traditional brick-and-mortar retailers fight back against the online giants, in-store technology will play a significant role in 2020. To maintain customers’ interest and loyalty, retailers need to provide an experience that can’t be replicated online. For instance, smart surfaces can act as mirrors, allowing customers to test makeup shades without having to touch in-store samples or even try different colour clothes without having to take off what they are wearing. Jewellers can 3D print a replica of a wedding ring before a customer’s eyes in order to ensure they are perfectly happy before crafting the real thing – and use a blockchain-certified certificate to prove that the gold and gems in the final item have been responsibly sourced. And AI algorithms can be used in conjunction with image recognition to guide shop assistants to customers who are most in need of help. For their part, shop staff will still be needed to do those things a machine can’t do – such as smile at a customer, and provide what is ultimately a human experience.”

Jose Manuel Benedetti, principal architect at Insight UK 

How shoppers will buy on Black Friday 

Black Friday will change dramatically in 2020. Store traffic was down significantly in 2019, by up to 6% according to some sources and I predict this trend will continue in 2020. One reason for this decline is that shoppers aren’t saving up for one big day of sales anymore. Instead, they are spreading out their shopping “trips” online over a longer period of time. There’s no need to wake up at the crack of dawn just to fight over sale items when shoppers can find great deals from their couch. Brands also offer deep discounts in the weeks leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which contributes to the decrease in store traffic. Steep discounting isn’t entirely a positive as shoppers now expect deals on everything they buy, which cuts into retailer margins.

Graham Cooke, chief executive and co-founder of marketing personalisation technology provider Qubit

Omnichannel will become the norm

“2020 signals a new decade that will thrust Millennials into the prime adult stage and bring Gen Z of college-age. As younger generations gain more control of buying power, businesses will be forced to adopt an omnichannel approach to provide more convenience while maintaining a seamless shopping experience from in-store to online to social media and beyond. To adopt a truly omnichannel approach, businesses will need to leverage technology that connects all POS touchpoints. The sharing of customer and transaction data across channels will be critical to providing a high-impact customer experience on every channel.”

Greg Chapman, SVP of business development at Avalara

Local retailers will need local support in 2020

The high street isn’t dead, but it does need a leader. Household retailers are struggling to remain current and Britain’s high streets are emptied out. But looking ahead to the next decade, the high street will continue to redefine itself, becoming a destination for experiences not just product purchases. Small and independent businesses are to be integral to this transformation, becoming the ‘nuts and bolts’ of local communities. People go to the high street to feel a sense of belonging and these local retailers can plug this need. The pledges outlined in the SME Finance Charter are a good first step to support small business but with 2020 shaping up to be one of the most turbulent years to date for the retail sector, local councils and authorities must support their local retailers if they are to make a real step-change for bricks and mortar in Britain. 

Angus Burrell, general manager UK, omnichannel payment solutions, at international payments solutions company, Valitor

Multi-touchpoint buying

Salesforce’s 2019 Retail Industry Trends report found that 67% of customers are already relying on multiple touchpoints to make purchases. And while 87% of all purchases start with an online search, nearly half of customers still prefer to buy in physical stores.

These statistics reflect the reality of the modern shopper’s life: we cruise Instagram on our commute and then log on to a brand’s website when we get home. Or we check stock from home and pick up our merchandise in store when we run errands. 

As consumers, we’re constantly switching between online and offline experiences. In 2020, ecommerce retailers will get better at creating experiences that bridge the online-offline continuum so that shoppers have a unified and consistent experience whether online or in store.

This isn’t to say that the two will be identical – they can’t and shouldn’t. But better visual assets will help online shoppers better experience merchandise without actually touching it. Which brings me to the second trend.

Katy Collins is a senior account executive for Threekit

Image: Adobe Stock

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