As we bid adieu to the year 2014, it's time to look at the looming 2015 and explore trends and technologies that will make waves in the coming year. In 2014, there was a huge popularity and adoption of omnichannel retailing and in-store marketing solutions such as iBeacons, NFC, etc. among merchants and retailers to enhance the buying experience.
While we also saw an increase in the adoption of Big Data, Social Media and Mobile solutions like M-Commerce apps, Mobile Wallet, Mobile Payment etc in 2014, for the year 2015, we expect store operators and online retailers to increase their investment and adoption of these strategies even more, not only to influence on the digital media platform or showcase products but, to actually sell them by bridging the gaps between digital channels and offline retailing.
Thus, after a heady 2014, 2015 promises to amplify the e-commerce and retail market.
As per eMarketer - an independent market research firm, e-commerce sales will hit $1.5 trillion, while e-commerce market for SMEs will exceed $100 billion, which will be more than the combined revenue of Amazon and eBay as predicted by Bigcommerce.
With these, there are more such predictions provided by experts and analysts.
Let’s check out the top 10 retail and e-commerce predictions of 2015 and see how they can be used to take important decisions, provide better customer service and stay ahead of competitors.
1. Social Network will be a Shopping Platform
For the last several years, Social Media platforms have been used by businesses to promote products, enhance branding and communicate with prospective customers. However, in the 2015, merchants and retailers are expected to add Selling as one more activity on the Social Media networks due to the recent launches of new shopping functions which includes Facebook’s and Twitter’s “buy” buttons and Curalate’s Like2Buy platform on Instagram.
Brands like Nordstrom, Terrain, World Market, Hautelook and many have already implemented the feature Like2Buy on Instagram while Home Depot and Burberry are testing the Twitter’s Buy button.
It is clear that social platforms are going to be shoppable in 2015 and chances are that the buyers will have a good time shopping without going through too many transitions from one channel to another.
2. Showrooming, Reverse Showrooming & Offline Shopping
46% of buyers admit that they actually visit stores to physically check products for buying them online. Considering these purchasing decisions and stages, many online retailers are adopting Showrooming wherein a customer can actually experience the look and feel of the product instore before buying it online.
On the contrary, 69% of shoppers research products online and then buy them from high street or brick and mortar store, which is why many online store operators have opened a number of physical offline stores. This is also known as ‘reverse showrooming’
With such trends, we anticipate that in the year 2015, there will be a lot of digital as well as the physical presence of retailers which will increase a lot of competition. To enrich the in-store experience, we also expect that store operators will integrate several new technologies like iBeacons, mobile payments, etc. to make high street shopping faster and convenient than online shopping.
3. Powerful Big Data & Analytics
2015 will also see an increase in data and analytics with world-wide investment upto $125 billion as per IDC. Online stores and e-commerce website owners will make more use of data and information available from Big Data and Analytics to make better decisions, analyze customer traffic and customize interactions accordingly.
With Big data, brands will be able to predict customer behavior by tracking their history and whereabouts at a granular level, which will assist in providing a better buying experience along with data-driven personalization.
4. Increased Tech Innovation & Adoption of IoT
2015 will also see increased innovation in technology and adoption IoT among retailers to improve shopping experience which will comprise of following:
- iBeacons: Since iBeacons provide in-store marketing and analytics solutions, it will be the most in-demand technology among retailers and offline store operators.
- Wearables: The market for wearable technologies like smart watches, glasses and fitness monitors are expanding at an increasing rate. With this we expect store operators to experiment with this technology to offer a seamless digital buying experience to customers.
- NFC: Many smartphone devices now feature NFC which provides wireless communication to capture information, data and QR codes and process them for different purposes. Since this technology replaces physical money, credit cards, etc with passwords and keys for buyers, many retailers and store operators in order to support the facility of processing transactions with speed and security will be integrating it with their existing POS and RFID systems.
5. ‘Same Day Delivery’ & ‘Click and Collect’ will be the Buzzwords
One of the objectives of online store operators in the 2015 will be to provide compelling shopping experience and get more repeat customers. To achieve this, merchants and online store operators are expected to implement better control over how a product is marketed and delivered which further will improve fulfillment cycles. For this, retailers are likely to increase ‘click and collect’ and ‘same day delivery’ approach.
On the one hand, there will be more convenient option to browse and pick up products from the store of choice with 'click and collect', while on the other hand, customers will get faster delivery of products with ‘same day delivery’ option. With both these policies, merchants will be able to fulfill customer orders and distribute products as per their preferences which will enhance the value chain.
There will be expedited shipping, better delivery channels and closer warehouses to the buying hub. Thus, in 2015, we will see ‘Same Day Delivery’ and ‘Click and Collect’ policy as the buzzwords.
6. Mobiles in Bigger & Better Roles
Mobile technology will continue to grow in 2015 with more acceptance and adoption of mobile solutions such as mobile apps, mobile commerce, mobile payments, etc. Among these, mobile payment solutions will be on the hot list of online stores since customers adopting mobile wallet will increase substantially in 2015. Already the market is thriving with multiple payment technologies and solutions such as Apple Pay, Softcard, Google Wallet, the CurrentC app, or Beacon, hence retailers and online store players will have a good time in serving customers
According to Portio Research, mobile payments solutions will exceed $1 trillion by the end of 2015. On the other hand, global sales with mobile commerce solutions and apps will $120 billion.
These figures suggest that year 2015 will be the year of mobiles. Mobility will demonstrate a bigger and better role.
7. Localization will Win
2015 will attract more localization wherein global brands will spread their wings in territories to provide more direct and local experience. Store operators and online retailers will customize their offerings according to local communities and their culture.
With Localization, we will see localized store formats, inventories specific to locations. Not only this, global brands will be operating on local pricing and have a flexible supply chain. This will cut the barriers to diversity and impart more sustainability.
8. Omnichannel Retailing will Continue to Thrive
In 2015, omnichannel retailing will continue to pay off. Stores and retailers are expected to continue adopting online stores and mobile commerce solutions to serve customers on multiple channels aggressively.
With omnichannel retailing, we will see more and more e-commerce as well as brick and mortar stores connecting with customers at multiple touchpoints to enhance interactions and complete transactions with ease. Moreover, customers will be able to view items online, purchase using a mobile phone or drop by a physical store to return items easily. In all, there will be more flexibility to browse and make purchases online and in-store and vice-versa.
Further, omnichannel retailing is expected to break down the silos of online and offline processes and bring more unity in the teams working on different channels and platforms to increase customer service.
9. Better Return Policies
With an objective to build customer loyalty and ensure satisfaction, e-commerce stores and offline retailers are expected to provide better return policies. With this, customers will get more freedom to navigate their decision and easily return items purchased without occurring any loses.
Many brands have already started offering flexible and convenient return policies such as Zappos which allows customers to return products for up to 365 days from the purchase date.
Although this sounds unprofitable and tends to curb retailers revenue, it will have a positive effect on customer relation and experience.
10. Unique Buying Experience with Personalization
Retailers are expected to offer more personalization and tailored product services options in which customers will be able to dictate, when (same day, next day, deferred delivery) where (home, office, or place of choice) and how (gift wrapped, engraved, embossed) the product should be delivered. Also, there will be more personalized discounts and offers based on different customer loyalty and shopping experience.
Over and above these, retailers will Customer Loyalty Points which will enhance buying experience of customers in 2015. Instead of just rewarding customers for their purchases, retailers are more likely to incentivize shoppers for more engagements and actions rather than just purchases.
All these 10 trends and predictions gives a sneak peek into the upcoming e-commerce and retail market and also provides insights on how these predictions can help you shape-up your e-commerce and offline selling strategies.
With convenient shopping and personalization via social media and big analytics, faster delivery cycles with omnichannel, localization and showrooming and with easy accessibility via mobiles and technologies, we gauge 2015 will take off the customer experience to the next level.
So what are you planning to follow and implement in the coming year? Do share your views.