What trends will dominate the digital retail in 2018?
As technology continues to evolve at the speed of lightning, consumer behavior is also changing at the same pace. The modern consumer is tech-savvy and more connected than ever before, which has forced retailers to go digital so that they remain relevant. For example, a 2017 survey by JDA Software Group and PwC revealed that a majority of retail CEOs cited digitization as a high priority, with 69% of those interviewed saying that they planned to increase their investments in digital transformation over 2018. The trends that are anticipated to drive the digital retail sector in 2018 are primarily influenced by consumer expectations such as the need for speed and enhanced experiences. Some of the top trends that every retailer should have their eyes on include:
1. Growing demand for personalized digital experiences
Consumers are yearning for personalized experiences from retailers.
They want your store to recognize their specific wants and needs. In a recent research, Marketing Insider Group found out that 78% of internet users in the US are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers personally relevant content. This demand is shaping digital retail transformation, with more retailers leveraging technology to engage customers and establish personal relationships with them so that they can target them with personalized information and incentives.
The leading technologies retailers are using to close the personalization gap are mobile apps, personalized pages, beacons, and chat tools that use Artificial Intelligence such as Chatbots.
2. Mobile at the heart of digital retail
Mobile trends are taking center stage in digital retail.
Analysts reports that about 90% of consumers use their mobile phones at some point in the purchasing process. Customers are using their mobile devices to search for products, engage with brands, purchase items, and make payments, both online and in-store. As such, your website should be designed to deliver a seamless and integrated experience to customers across multiple devices. Mobile trends are also fueling the growth of alternative payments and programs like mobile loyalty in the retail sector.
3. Omni-Channel experience
Consumers expect consistent customer experience from brands whether they are shopping online or in your brick-and-mortar store.
With trends like ‘buy online pick up in store’ (BOPUS) growing in popularity, it is becoming a necessity for retailers to bridge the gap between online and physical stores. Consumers are making online purchases but picking up the items from brick-and-mortar stores to save time while in-store and reduce shipping costs. Retailers should, therefore, ensure that their online stock reflects what is available in-store so that customers are not frustrated when they visit the store, as it could result in lost sales.
4. New Payment Options
As we transit to a cashless economy, consumers are now demanding for flexible payment options.
Alternative payments are out-facing credit and debit cards, with the adoption of mobile wallets being on the rise. Such payment options offer more convenience to customers as they are more secure compared to cards, and they can easily be tied up to loyalty programs. They also enhance customer service. POS terminals are also undergoing a major overhaul as more digital retailers ditch PC POS systems for the more flexible and compact tablet-based POS systems.
5. Artificial Intelligence will continue to transform digital retail
2018 is expected to be the year when AI will have its breakthrough moment in the retail sector.
More and more retailers are anticipated to start using it in various ways to enrich the retail and ecommerce experience. Examples include the use of chatbots and conversational interfaces like Google Assistant, Alexa, and Facebook Messenger to deliver highly personalized experiences to customers and improve customer service. Salesforce Einstein is another example of how businesses can use artificial intelligence to analyze big data and automatically generate recommendations or predictions based on the unique processes of their organizations. Such insights are helping enterprises to connect better with their customers.
Consumers are not only purchasing products from retailers, they are also buying the experience.
6. Subscription model
Mobile trends are taking center stage in digital retail.
The subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100% per year for 5 years, reaching a value of $2.6 billion in 2016 in the USA.
Created for newspapers, it has expanded to areas like personal services (beauty parlours, gym facilities), software (Salesforce, Windows), expensive equipment like cars or even consumables (Blue Apron, Dollar Shave). It is now combining subscription and rental with clothing & jewellery (Rent the Runway).
Along with other drivers behind this trend (cost, simplification…) the cultural shift from Ownership to Use, or from Product to Experience is paramount.
Subscription economy comes with its very own success factors :
• Customer Experience and sense of belonging, culture of membership and embedding social media strategy into the customer journey
• Careful understanding of all the components of a business model and related KPIs: churn; logistics; impact of returns/damage
• Implementing the right tools for specific customer needs such as forums & chats or managing complex subscription flows. Players like Zuora or Salesforce offer specific platforms that can help optimize the management of this business model.
Blockchain is shaking up the world of retail
Part of blockchain’s value proposition is its unique functionality with tokens, which are derivative currencies using the ledger as a medium to accomplish various transactional feats. People can use it like money, yet its presence on the ledger lends it more utility than cash. With clever use of smart contracts, companies can delegate how and why tokens move through their proprietary blockchains, and can therefore nurture tailored relationships with their customers beyond the simply transactional aspect. The retail industry is one of the young technology’s most advanced targets, both for the size of the audience and for its ability to collect B2B and B2C users.
BayBridgeDigital is a game changing software company headquartered in NYC. We are building a suite of digital applications on the Salesforce platform. Our mission is to create a world where retailers are loved by customers and employees. We connect brands technology and people to create new growth and business value faster. BayBridgeDigital is a leading provider of retail-specific cloud and mobile software, driving digital transformation for the world’s largest companies. BayBridgeDigital is an “industry cloud” pure-player specialized on Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM provider