Mobile will be a crucial aspect of these omnichannel experiences as it will be used as a vehicle for delivery. Already, mobile is edging out desktop in terms of internet usage, with 57% of traffic coming from mobile devices. Brands and retailers that want to market to these users need to be where they are, and that’s on mobile. Due to that, many predictions on the future of retail center around devices that travel with consumers.
#1. Deep Learning Will Drive a Shift Towards Discovery Shopping
Deep learning algorithms that track consumer purchase patterns, preferences, location, and interest will enable retailers to provide more proactive recommendations. Even something as simple as the consumer’s facial expression could be used to determine customer satisfaction and offer guidance to improve experiences.
This data is crucial in supporting the growing trend of discovery shopping in the digital space. In the past, consumers who shopped online typically searched based on a specific need. Now, however, they may be driven to buy based on information they see on social media or via a digital lookbook. Essentially, it’s a form of digital window shopping that allows consumers to view a wide range of products.
#2. Rapid Delivery Will Aid E-Commerce Leaders in the Future of Retail
Same-day delivery is no longer an added service. It’s something consumers expect. Twenty-five percent of consumers report they will abandon their online shopping cart if same-day delivery isn’t an option. Retailers enhance their distribution options to respond to this demand. They open more centers in various locations to serve a growing pool of consumers who demand immediate services. However, investing in a massive distribution network isn’t always an option. In those cases, retailers turn to one of three options:
For consumers who must have an item on the same day they order it, offering an option to buy online and pick it up at the store is ideal. Not only does this solution satisfy the same-day delivery need, but it also gets them to go to a physical location and possibly purchase more.
For some consumers, the inconvenience of walking into the store and waiting in-line is enough to make them abandon their cart. However, curbside pickup, where consumers can park in a designated spot and have their items brought out to their car, resolves this issue. This is a low-cost solution which provides the benefit of same-day delivery without the added expense.
Some retailers are choosing to partner with third-party delivery services like Lyft to offer same-day delivery to consumers. This is especially popular in the grocery sector, as consumers are willing to pay more to receive perishable items the same day without the need to go to the store.
#3. Brick-and-Mortar 2.0 Will Tie the Digital to the Physical Space
While online retail is popular, it’s still only expected to account for 20% of sales by 2025. Brick-and-mortar locations will still make up the brunt of transactions, but they’ll shift to support an increased need to be digitally connected during the path to purchase. This is the beginning of brick-and-mortar 2.0 and mobile optimization is needed for its success.
This is one of the reasons many brands choose to work with Shopkick. Shopkick partners with brands and retailers by giving them access to our highly engaged user base, which improves in-store engagement with products. This was the case when Rimmel London partnered with us on a campaign that leveraged consumer’s mobile phones to direct them to products in the shopping aisle.
A plethora of options is available for brands who wish to partner with third parties to enhance in-store experiences. They should seek out those with a strong base of active users to garner the best results.
#4. Technology Will Enable More Self-Driven Customer Service
Consumers in need of assistance with a product prefer to help themselves before they seek the aid of an associate. In fact, 67% of consumers prefer self-service over speaking with a company representative, with 75% noting it’s the most convenient way to resolve customer service issues. There are many options to provide these services, which vary widely in sophistication. Here are a few:
Forums are probably the least sophisticated option, but they’re still a solution for helping customers help themselves. Individuals can publicly post their questions and receive answers from the company as well as from company personnel.
It’s crucial that all companies have some basic questions listed and answered if they’re frequently asked the same questions. These are often the first stop for a consumer with a problem, and when their issue is covered, the fix is simple.
Smarter FAQs can take consumers through a series of questions to best determine their issue and help them resolve it. These troubleshooting programs are excellent for self-service as the individual gets a customized answer without the need to reach out to customer service.
Chatbots have become so sophisticated that often, consumers don’t even know they’re talking to a computer program. These chatbots run on data which is analyzed for context and can guide them to the best solutions for these answers. As artificial intelligence grows, these bots will only become more sophisticated and capable.
#5. Direct Sales Will Increase Across All Categories
The reason challenger brands have seen so much success is that they’ve been able to cut out the retail middle man by leveraging the internet to sell directly to consumers. This isn’t a strategy that works for all brands, as the product must be unique or offer an added service.
#6. Online Search Will Move Beyond the Screen
It’s estimated that by 2020, 30% of all searches will occur without screens. This is largely interpreted to feature voice search but could also include more immersive categories like virtual and augmented reality. These new types of searches could present a paradigm shift for retailers, who have relied heavily on keyword-based text searches in their digital strategies.
While this is a difficult category to predict, retailers should begin to focus on market leaders who gain the most attention from consumers in relation to their screenless experiences. Amazon, for example, is a market leader when it comes to smart speakers, which is why brands would do well to improve their listings on the Amazon platform to prepare for voice searches.