We are currently living in the “Age of the Customer” where businesses are vying against each other to stay relevant. In order to survive the vigorous competition, every single enterprise should have a complete lowdown of what its customers want. If a product or service falls out of this curve, it will quickly become irrelevant and a source of revenue loss.
Microsoft’s Zune, for example, was passionately developed to rival Apple store products. However, it failed to catch the consumers’ attention and quickly became a recipient of negative reviews. Apparently, the customers reported a number of technical glitches and a complicated music store turned Zune into a failure.
The digital media software may’ve been created to overcome its competitors, but because the customers didn’t find any relevance, it quickly faded into oblivion. This can tell us volumes about the world of technology and how rapidly it’s evolving.
Businesses can never underestimate their consumers. Every person is acquainted with the latest tech trends. If a business is unable to successfully bring about a particular innovation, its customers will quickly identify the technical flaws and loopholes. Even hyped-up and greatly anticipated products like Google Glass, which seemed exceptionally innovative, couldn’t move the ball forward. Why? Because it was too pricey and not private enough. Customers found the cost to be hitting the roof and were clearly bothered by the “easy to record” feature, which jeopardized personal security and privacy.
So, what does this tell us about the retail industry? That it pivots around what the customers want. Your target audience and your potential consumers ideally determine the success of your services. It also reveals that only smart, relevant technology is the way to strike a chord with your customers.
And this brings us to the wonderful world of online retail. There hasn’t been a better time for online stores than right now. People are swiping cards, clicking, and flocking to online stores more than traditional avenues. The exciting experience of rushing your car through the traffic to catch a sale has been conveniently replaced with the swift fiddling on the keyboard and entering your credit card number to order online.
Retail consumer trends are increasingly being defined by online convenience and comfort. Many businesses understand this quite well and have produced impressively smart ways to make the online customer experience even more desirable. So, without further ado, here are some outstanding techfueled trends that are driving online shopping.
1. Online Grocery Purchases
As discussed above, online retail is re-shaping customer behavior. Consumers always search for “all-in-ones” that have the comfort factor, price that lives up to its value, and unmatched quality. It’s safe to say that an online store gives them exactly that.
Such is the case of online grocery stores. Every household dedicates the weekend for monthly grocery shopping. Students who live in dorms may update grocery every two days. In short, grocery stores are frequented by consumers the most. However, they also have the thinnest profit margins. Only some popular supermarkets like Kroger and Albertsons managed to make it big with the customers owing to the enriched variety of products and fresh quality.
However, your local grocery stores tucked in street corners only manage to make slim profits. However, with online grocery purchase, more and more customers are realizing the effectiveness and ease of choosing bread and butter online. Not only does it save time, noisy queues but also it opens up sales and incentives.
A leading game changer in this regard is Amazon. You’d think they bought cartons of whole foods for fun. But, Amazon clearly knows better. Online grocery has quickly found a spot with busy, working consumers. Buying $14 billion worth of whole foods is an impressive strategy that is confirming the
efficacy of online grocery.
Customers are increasingly attracted to the idea of grocery deliveries. MySuperMarket in the UK and Walmart Grocery in Europe are also close behind. Walmart has been lauded for its fantastic delivery service, fresh products, and kerbside pick-up of grocery orders to more than 1800 stores. With customer-friendly benefits like ‘earn cash back’ policies, discounts, and of course, a cheap service, online grocery is a burgeoning e-commerce trend.
2. Single-click Online Checkouts
If the convenience of home delivery wasn’t all, here is another good news. Now, you can check out with a single click. Previously, many online retail stores entailed plenty of checklists and web-pages before a customer could check-out with the order.
It did amplify security, but web-developers have quickly found a new plug-in to fast track the process. With the one-click checkout, online stores like Amazon have a registered license to this safe and secure feature. By checking out in a matter of milliseconds, customers are more likely to return to the website. There will be a lower chance of users abandoning their carts as longer check-outs may cause them to cancel out a few items.
Magento, an e-commerce store, has also introduced this feature, which immediately skips the shopping cart and checks the user out. Third party providers like Stripe are also using the one-click service along with Shopify that uses this feature for its independent online store.
This interactive retail technology has become popular. For businesses, it is a sure-fire way to increase sales, repeat customers, and stop visitors from dropping items out of their shopping cart.
3. Emerging Augmented Reality
According to the Retail Perceptions Report, AR tech will be generating a whopping revenue of $120 billion by the end of 2020. So, even though Augmented and Virtual reality promptly reminds us of video games and simulation, they’re expanding into retail.
Although this trend is still in its budding stage, in the coming years, AR technology will explode in online retail. Slowly and gradually, e-commerce businesses and online retailers are catching up with the unrivaled benefits of AR tools.
We all know that IKEA Place was the first store to enable its customers in choosing furniture online. The ARKit app allows the user to capture their home space and edit in and out of different furniture to visualize renovations and interior changes. 60% of consumers believe in the power of remarkable technology; therefore, businesses that are still unsure of AR tech, should reconsider.
Lowe’s has also added a breathtaking AR tool to its digital app that allows customers to use a virtual tape on their phone to measure furniture. Even though Lowe’s is a newcomer, it is leveraging on AR by enabling the user’s smartphone camera to catch real-life measurements and make informed choices.
Anthropologie – a leading US clothing retail and furniture store— features a similar app. Users can change and adjust colors and materials on the virtual footprint while picking furniture. The store partnered with a digital creative studio and features 3D images to the online furniture catalogue. Consumers can experience a heightened visual experience as they pick and choose furniture for their interior.
4. The Explosion of Chatbots
The swift and fast-paced technology that is slowly creeping into every aspect of our human lives has also made us extremely impatient. Customers want prompt responses and accurate answers to their queries. If your online business is unable to answer their questions, they will quickly choose your competitor.
Chatbots, for this reason, are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Starbucks has always been on the trend’s list. Customers can place quick orders for their favorite coffee, smoothies and snacks through voice commands and texts. The chatbots promptly inform when the order is ready to take-away, along with the bill. Available for Android, iPhone, and Windows, you can easily locate the chatbots in the Starbucks App.
Another great example is Staples, which uses a Facebook messenger chat box to help customers locate different products and keep them up-to-date with the newest discounts and offers. Customers can even make conversation in the chat and purchase what they like. Staples has smartly employed the IBM Watson technology in its website, chatbots, and mobile apps, which gives customers anything they want on-demand.
5. Voice Assistants on the Rise
Contrary to popular opinions, millennials aren’t the only group to be acknowledging the fruits of online retail. Turns out, it is just as beneficial to senior citizens and older people. Even when they slowly catch onto digital apps and smart-phone usage, one innovative feature that has been a favorite amongst senior citizens is the “voice assistant”.
It’s easier to listen to suggestions on music and movie choices through an inbuilt voice assistant. According to a research conducted by Capgemini, around 50% of consumers already use smartphone assistants to call a cab, order food and find out weather reports and political news.
Audio tools are a quicker way for seniors to interact with tech trends. The idea of engaging with your phone screen through smart speakers is certainly not new. Siri and Google Assistant are two famous examples. However, in retail, it is opening up a whole new market for senior citizens.
Amazon’s Echo Show, Google Home Hub, and Alexa are three examples of interactive retail technology that will lift all the barriers of online shopping very soon. Don’t be surprised if your grandma beats you to the online winter sale!
There is no doubt that the impact of technology on online retailing is huge. With growing AR tech, customer service chatbots, single click check-outs, and so much more, e-commerce will be booming in the years to come.