The retail industry is undergoing a significant technological transformation. Thanks to rapid advancements in digital infrastructure, e-Commerce is booming (with huge scope for further growth) – now influencing approximately 55% of in-store purchases.
So, given that over HALF of in-store transactions stem from online influence, it’s quite evident that retail merchants can no longer solely rely on their physical presence to not only succeed but to also survive as a business.
Due to the increased accessibility of e-Commerce technology, it is essential that retailers grow their digital footprint to remain competitive in their sector.
Let’s take a look at this year’s e-Commerce trends to see which technological developments are influencing traditional commerce.
1. BRICK & MORTAR STORES
If you haven’t already, you’ll soon start to see a new wave of brick and mortar stores. Although they provide a physical shopping experience for their consumers, these shops first came into their sector as digital businesses.
Canadian parka brand, Kanuk, have wowed us with their unique in-store experience that involves a -25°C room, giving consumers the opportunity to truly feel the effectiveness of the jackets in freezing weather conditions.
Online men’s fashion retailer, Frank and Oak, provides another quirky store experience. All 16 stores located throughout the U.S. offer premium coffee as well as barbershop services to their consumers in order to create a bespoke addition to the shopping experience.
These online retail businesses have succeeded in, not only providing a unique online user experience but also translating that personalized shopping experience into a memorable offline user experience.
2. AUGMENTED REALITY AT HOME
AR is gradually becoming a more prominent component in online retail.
The Ikea app, for example, gives its consumers the ability to place a virtual life-size product in their home to see how it might look before they make their purchase.
Having the capacity to visualize the way in which a product might sit in your own home will increase overall sales as it will boost consumer confidence and certainty.
Web developer and Shopify Expert, Kelly Vaughn, is in agreement with this and has stated that this is just the beginning of AR in e-Commerce: “Imagine being able to test out what furniture may look like in your home or how a standing desk might best work in your office”.
The ROPO ratio (Research Online, Purchase Offline) is an accurate method for assessing the way in which a business’ digital footprint influences their in-store success.
Around 82% of mobile users search for local services via their mobile phone, and 19% of these searches translate into a sale within 24 hours of conducting the search. This positive correlation reflects the importance of tracking the interrelation between e-Commerce and commerce.
Examining the ROPO ratio allows businesses to see which aspects of their online business campaigns e.g. Google Adwords are directly contributing to higher sales rates, and thus they can alter their digital business strategy and implement targeted marketing accordingly.
For example, Matalan’s physical stores have greatly benefitted from its online presence, as every £1 spent on AdWords results in £46 in sales, £31 of which were in-store.
5. MOBILE CHECKOUT
With mobile phones becoming more and more sophisticated in their functionality, the rate of mobile checkouts against desktop checkouts is increasing. It has been predicted that mobiles will be responsible for 70% of e-Commerce traffic by the end of this year.
Significant advancements, therefore, require significant changes, meaning that merchants have to enhance their focus on online mobile retail experiences. Mobile retail developments such as fingerprint and facial recognition have already contributed to making mobile purchase more seamless.
Starbucks experienced this increased rate of mobile checkouts in their physical stores – so much so that the high volume of users making mobile transactions resulted in congestion in their shops!
5. MACHINE LEARNING
Machine learning refers to the way in which technology observes and remembers consumer behavior and then uses this information to perform personalized, targeted marketing.
For example, Netflix’s algorithm for recommending films and TV shows organizes 93 million global users into 1300 taste communities based on their movie and TV preferences.
Not only does this automated experience save online merchants time, but it can also contribute valuable information to businesses which can be translated into marketing campaigns.
For example, UX consultant, Mark Kelso shares his machine learning benefits: “we reworded our abandoned cart emails and have seen an increase in the conversion, for some shops by up to 12%”.
6. VOICE SEARCH
The way in which we communicate through technology is rapidly evolving. The arrival of Alexa and Amazon Echo has introduced voice recognition into our homes. Therefore, e-Commerce platforms will need to become fully optimized for voice search functionality.
Dominos pizza app already has a head start on voice search services. App users can pick their pizza toppings and make the order vocally. Similarly Lyft app permits users to order taxi rides directly from Alexa.
We are just at the beginning of voice control in the e-Commerce sector.
7. DECLINE OF THE BROWSER
Thanks to an expanding variety of information channels e.g. apps, AR functionalities and voice technology, reliance on browsers is expected to wane.
The ability to make transactions through apps or use services embedded in social media platforms are also contributing factors to the decline in browser usage.
WalMart and Amazon are striving to develop a browser-less digital strategy that will provide basic everyday commodities such as milk or batteries.
8. SHOPPING NATIVELY
As mentioned above, many services such as maps are becoming integrated into apps.
This will lead to a greater quantity of consumers purchasing directly from inside an app. For example, Pinterest has integrated a “Shop The Look” functionality, which allows users to click on a product that is featured in a photo, and then be redirected to a purchasing page.
9. IMAGE SEARCH
It is expected that by 2020, about 50% of searches will be conducted through voice or image search.
Visual search tools are on the horizon, and well-established e-Commerce businesses such as eBay have already enabled a visual search tool, which allows users to replace the traditional text search with an image.
This will make comparing prices of and finding a particular product much more convenient for consumers.
10. BETTER PRODUCT IMAGES & VIDEOS
Higher quality product images and videos are key for remaining competitive in the e-Commerce sector. Having unique engaging image/video content that deeply reflects the functionality and design of a product.
For example, Bellroy uses sophisticated video content to display the inside of their wallets and other products, showing the scale of the product, how it can be used and much more. This creates a much more convincing pitch for the consumer to make a purchase.
Check out the full product video here!