Within the retail industry, the change that has taken place over the last eighteen months has been unprecedented – particularly the speed of that change.
Not least in the area of technology and software. Many ideas and technologies that seemed futuristic suddenly launched, causing retailers to switch from wondering whether or not they should adopt them to asking when and how.
What’s next for these businesses?
The impact of the pandemic has been to change the shape of the industry and accelerate the adoption of new technologies. A survey of 700 retailers by Software Advice showed some key trends that point to the future direction of the industry.
The report highlights priorities for retailers in the next year and trends that will impact the future of shopping. A standout finding is that new technology habits adopted by both customers and retailers during the pandemic look set to continue into 2022 and beyond.
Omnichannel is here to stay
Omnichannel retail is an approach that focuses on providing customers with a unified and frictionless shopping experience across digital and physical channels at every stage of the customer journey, from browsing/discovery to order fulfilment.
The clear takeout from the report on this was “To succeed today, retailers must have a unified omnichannel strategy to meet the needs of the newly evolved customer”. “When it comes to implementing your omnichannel strategy, providing a range of communication and shopping channels is key”.
This is a view shared by many e-commerce leaders. “Small businesses need to diversify their channel mix and adapt rapidly to this historic shift in consumer behavior toward digital-first,” says Jacob De Geer, vice president of small and midsize business (SMB) products at PayPal
Payments are changing
Customers complete an online transaction and, instead of paying an upfront total amount, make instalment payments over a period of time.
The report emphasises “In an increasingly crowded ecommerce space, offering flexible payment options to meet consumers’ financial needs is now an essential and expected part of the shopping journey”.
Software Advice is in no doubt that “As retail giants like Walmart
In fact, half of surveyed retailers have already implemented or are rolling out the acceptance of cryptocurrency payments as part of their business suggesting that mainstream adoption is well underway.
Social commerce grows in popularity
Social commerce is the process of selling products directly to customers on social media. The entire shopping experience—from product discovery and research to checkout—takes place directly on the social media platform. 72% of the retailers surveyed said they used social media for marketing, selling and serving customers.
A top tip from the report on getting the best from social commerce was: “ensure seamless checkout on social media platforms. When shoppers are ready to buy your product, they want the process to be quick and easy. A hassle-free checkout experience makes them more likely to come back”.
The retail industry is making huge investments into retail technology to improve and enhance their customer’s shopping experience, small businesses should follow closely to identify which changes benefit their customers and their business.