As a retailer, you’re always on your toes. You have to think about your business’s daily operations, your turnover and employees, while also dealing with surprises and curveballs that only the retail segment can throw. A couple of decades ago, not many people would have believed that the internet would be a powerful tool; even fewer would have seen the potential for online retail. Just over five years ago, intense arguments were made about online retail vs retail stores, and which format would completely overthrow the other.
Come 2017, and we realize that physical and online retail coexists, and the ‘reptiles that survive the apocalypse’ are those that have managed to leverage the benefits of all possible sales formats. At Primaseller, we’re staunch advocates of omnichannel retail and our solutions are customized to achieve just that- seamless integration across channels. What’s more, experts agree that omnichannel retail is the present and future of selling, too. Here are seven more predictions for what 2017 will look like for the not-so-ordinary retailer.
1. Mobile Experience As A Driver Of User Experience
Everything for e-commerce and digital marketing needs to be executed with mobile at the forefront.
-Devin Fitzpatrick, CDF Consulting
Speaking to CPCStrategy, Devin Fitzpatrick reveals that the mobile experience will determine actual sales conversions. So what does this mean for a retailer who is just starting out online? A strong mobile presence in the form of access either through an app or social media will determine your brand’s visibility. Whether you sell on a mobile device or not, you can be discovered through it. If a mobile app is not on the cards right now, consider developing a strong Instagram and Facebook presence. Make your retail store site mobile friendly and light. It may just be enough to entice people to buy from you.
2. Differentiation In The Age Of Amazon
Retailers really need to find a unique selling point and a sustainable point of difference they can defend—that’s going to be a challenge. Customers really need to know what a retailer stands for. If this isn’t clear—both internally and outside the business—retailers will struggle.
-Paul Greenberg, National Online Retailers Association
Amazon has plans to enter Australia, and that has quite a few retailers there shaken and stirred. Mr. Greenberg’s comment is a call for differentiation, and we think this applies to other parts of the globe too, where marketplaces are not a new concept anymore. If a customer can buy a product and get it shipped in a day or lesser, why should they choose to buy from you? An even better question to ask yourself – can I sign up with that marketplace and be the one to deliver faster?
For example, we all know that Lush UK stands for fresh, chemical-free products that are good for us. This exact wording is not to be found in any of Lush’s official communication channels, but we know anyway. That is differentiation. If we want chemical-free skincare, we will make an effort to look out for Lush. Even if you’re a seller with very generic products, your offering can be a differentiator. Think about what you can promise, and why someone should care.
3. Men As Prominent Spenders
We will continue to see men take the lead in spend(ing). Already, for the first time ever, men are outspending women by 13% and early indicators predict that the menswear market will expand 8.3% next year.
-Christine Sica, MoxGroup Strategists
Speaking to Forbes, Ms. Sica tells all retailers to keep an eye out for the men. Apparel and accessories have traditionally been the woman’s domain, but the men are coming, and they’re spending on themselves. Boutique services and premium haircuts have already become a thing. Menswear sections are not shoved to some obscure corner of a store anymore. If you’re an apparel and accessories retailer, you need to start thinking about curated menswear. Run-of-the-mill stuff just won’t do for these savvy spenders.
4. Virtual Reality To Boost Sales
Virtual reality (VR) is changing the retail landscape by fusing together the offline and online environment for enhanced customer engagement. VR is making it possible for sportswear shoppers to test out gear in environments it would be used in or try on clothing in a virtual dressing room.
-Paul Miller, Xero
Isn’t it exciting to think that you can actually try on a pair of running shoes in harsh terrain, or wear a dress in the exact same room it will eventually be worn in, without ever having to leave the store? VR can make this happen. Mr. Miller contemplates in a CIO article that VR can be a game-changing technology for retailers looking to maintain scale. If you are a retailer with a prominent store presence in several locations, you need to focus on building experiences into these stores. Any tech integration that prompts people to buy is a good one, and you can use even a VR headset to show customers what the product will look like- from new homes to jewelry, everything is preview-worthy.
5. Using Data To Know Customers
In one of today’s most important mobile commerce trends, a growing number of mobile consumers expect solutions that are personalized and tailored to their needs and interests. Rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach or expecting customers to sift through online stacks, retailers are looking to track buyers’ behaviors and purchasing patterns to offer customized suggestions and solutions to them.
-Scott Steinberg, author of Make Change Work For You
In a very insightful article written for Mobile Business Insights, Mr. Steinberg says that it isn’t enough to focus on mobile as another platform. The same seamless experience that users get on websites must be replicated across mobiles. One way to do this is to use data from past purchases to show highly relevant, curated products to individual customers. Analytics has made it possible to understand every customer both as an individual buyer and as part of a larger population. It is up to you to several this data and provide an experience that is unique and on-trend.
6. Social Media To Drive Sales
Social media already influences consumer behavior, but in 2017 it will become a bigger driver of direct transactions. Instagram recently rolled out a new feature that enables brands to tag products that are featured in the photos they post (much like the way a user would tag his or her friends).
-Bart Mroz, SUMO Heavy
We all know that we are supposed to use social media to boost sales and drive traffic to our websites. Most of us may not know how. Instagram’s new product tagging feature is something every retailer has been waiting for, and as Mr. Mroz says in a CIO review, social shopping can truly take off in 2017. Imagine users who buy your products and then tag them in pictures- it is sure to get their social circle more interested than if you did the posting yourself. You can benefit from strengthening your social media presence and being up to date with all of these new features that keep rolling out.
7. Pure-Play Online: A Thing Of The Recent Past
As we go into to 2017 and beyond we’re going to see more examples of the death of online pure-plays, which will either be bought or will open their own physical store. With the boom of e-commerce, online retailers are feeling the impact of managing escalating deliveries and returns, as numbers go up, the cost impact becomes prohibitive.
-Steve Rothwell, Eagle Eye
Sounds a little too catastrophic to believe, doesn’t it? Omnichannel retail has never been about expanding presence for presence’s sake. As Mr. Rothwell reveals to InternetRetailing, online stores will begin to feel the pinch of faster deliveries and extraordinary customer expectations. They will thus resort to opening their own physical stores. This isn’t so surprising considering Kindle bookstores, and Amazon Go are now a thing. As a retailer, you can consider hosting pop-up shops and experience stalls in prime locations.
Now that we are a couple of months into 2017, what is the greatest pinch you’re feeling and what, in your opinion, is the ideal solution?