Retailers can counter the economic downturn by successfully deploying the right mix of online and offline strategies, says Ariel Lüdi, CEO of the ecommerce supplier Hybris
. "If retailers play it right, their turnover will increase despite the economic crisis," he says. "Retailers should examine their existing strategies with a view to maximising flexibility in 2009 so that they can respond quickly to fast changing customer practices and market demands."
Hybris says it has identified nine trends which will impact the retail trade – both online and offline – in 2009:Cross-channel – get your information online, purchase offline or vice versa
. Behind this concept lies the challenge and the sales guarantee for 2009: It is no longer just a question of showing presence across multiple channels and applying it to distribution. Merchants must link up the different channels already used by consumers to meet the requirements of different buying patterns. Only with a cross-channel approach can they reach their customers where the purchase is made – whether in the shop, over the internet or by browsing a catalogue.Collaborative shopping – from customer to customer.
In 2009 personal interaction will become the must-have in the online retail trade as shopping clubs and integrated customer communities continue to gain in importance. Jointly setting trends, evaluating designers and new products, and exchanging experiences is what collaborative shopping offers are all about.Mobile shopping – mobile through all channels
. Mobile internet turns mobile phones into complete shopping guides. Many merchants are already offering the option of mobile shopping – webshops optimised for mobile devices and faster exchange of information using the 'tell-a-friend' function tap into this customer segment. In terms of promotions, too, the mobile phone has become an invaluable marketing tool. Immediately upon entering a store, for example, discount vouchers can be sent directly to a mobile phone – it's already happening in Japan and South Korea.Social commerce – consultations make a comeback
. Top priority in 2009 is the active participation of customers, personal relationships and communication among customers, all under the motto "consumers advise consumers". The exchange takes place by customers posting their shopping lists with their favourite items on the web in blogs or social-commerce portals.Shop optimisation – at the click of a button
. This trend will set the course for online sales in 2009, and shopkeepers will have to consistently and continuously improve their offers and image. Buzzwords such as behavioural targeting, searchandising and shop personalising dominate the industry. Individualised offers and buyer-friendly content based on sales statistics and calculated product recommendations make a shop the first choice among many.Online shopping B2B – the merchant as customer
. Retail sales of electronics in Germany, for instance, have been growing steadily, particularly in the B2B sector. The trend will continue in 2009. An excellent example is the Coca-Cola Beverages Award Shop for B2B customers. Using a multi-client basis, the company's various target groups – consumers, retail trade and catering – can be approached individually, without the need for a duplicate data management infrastructure.Security – safe shopping on the web
. Security on the web is a hotly debated topic. Even now, many online stores are open to the theft and manipulation of their sensitive data through simple attacks such as SQL injections. Placing their trust in the expertise of professional shop software, web stores should make a concerted effort in 2009 to prove their payment options are secure and that they have clearly defined settlement processes in place.Customer self-service – reducing costs and raising service levels
. The economic crisis is also threatening online retail profits in 2009. Unfortunately, cost savings are a solution that often involves the loss of quality customer service. Integrated self-service functions are an economical way for online merchants to prevent the loss of service quality, while at the same time increasing the efficiency of their business relationships. Web stores can provide excellent customer service without incurring the expense of call centres by providing a knowledge base or Ask&Answer portal on their website.The long-tail catalogue – sales through product mix depth and breadth
. A portal for everything – as amply demonstrated by Amazon: ranging from books to CDs and consumer electronics, the range includes everything the customers could want. In 2009, merchants should use cost-effective ways to expand their range, as an extensive range promises higher sales. A PIM-based data storage improves content administration of content and integration of external data sources such as suppliers and service providers, and customer-generated content is also easy to integrate.