Lockdowns imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak have compelled retailers to investigate alternatives to physical stores. Department shops like SM and Rustan’s have started offering online shopping with the option of delivery or pick-up in-store. Meanwhile, FMCG and cosmetic firms have begun to sell on e-commerce sites such as Shopee and Lazada.
Retailers must take advantage of digital technologies and online solutions to thrive throughout the pandemic and in the immediate post-pandemic scenario. It also provides opportunities for merchants to reach out to new customers through digital marketing, as well as to use data to get insights and come up with innovative strategies to increase loyalty and reduce abandoned cart scenarios.
While shifting to online sales has proven critical to shops’ survival, it is not the only factor to consider in a post-pandemic scenario.
“While the retail sector as a whole is still reeling from the pandemic’s effects, merchants who are further advanced in their digital transformation journey have fared better. However, long-term survival will necessitate a rethinking of business strategies. Physical storefronts will continue to be important, and merchants may benefit from smart technology, data analytics, and the internet of things in the future.
Trends Shaping the Future of Digital Shopping
According to industry data provider Statista, retail e-commerce revenues are expected to reach $5.4 trillion by 2022. Online marketplaces are changing the way customers shop as retailers respond to the digital sales boom. According to Internet Retailer, Amazon alone accounted for approximately one-third of all online retail sales in 2020. Other large online shops witnessed significant gains in online sales as well.
The pandemic has contributed to transforming the future of online shopping and caused businesses to adjust to suit new requirements and demands, forcing many consumers to rethink how they buy basic commodities, technology, and clothing. Business personnel must be well-versed in the latest technology and trends, including the following, in order to take advantage of the opportunities given by e-commerce.
Customer data and analytics help marketers improve their marketing strategies
Although online businesses lack retail clerks and changing rooms, they can use data to recommend products based on customers’ interests, stylistic choices, and preferences. Capturing patterns of purchase behavior is critical to the future of online shopping. This enables a company to develop smart pricing, advertising, and cross-promotions on an individual basis as well as based on broad trends.
To analyse customer data and unearth insights, business experts educated in market research analysis employ a range of technologies. Data is also used by analysts to undertake product research, such as determining which things are selling and how much customers are prepared to spend. Data is increasingly being used in product development, including determining which new products to offer and how to market them.
A Personalized Online Shopping Experience is Created by Machine Learning
In the e-commerce era, customers expect a more personalized experience. Consumers are more likely to shop with brands that know, recall, and provide relevant offers and product recommendations, according to Accenture. In fact, when online shops tailor the buying experience, they might see a 15% to 20% increase in sales conversion rates.
Data analysts utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to compile data and develop customer profiles instead of manually evaluating client information. Based on an intelligent algorithm, analysts use these profiles and insights (with the help of AI) to give personalized suggestions and relevant content.
Although AI does much of the analytical work, market research analysts use their own insights and understanding of customer behavior to provide suggestions and drive e-commerce forward.
Online Shopping Is Going Mobile
The growing use of mobile devices has had a huge impact on the retail business. According to Statista, internet transactions conducted via smartphones will account for more than $345 billion in retail sales in 2021. Shopping may take place anywhere with mobile e-commerce, with no need for a physical storefront or a PC. So, what does mobile mean for internet purchasing in the future?
According to Statista, nearly 54% of online orders are made on mobile devices, thus smart firms are building a mobile-friendly ecommerce experience. A retailer’s website and online store should be optimized with a design or application that makes it easy to browse and buy via a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, in addition to being accessible by computer.
Customers may get customized products, better prices, and more accessibility with the mobile e-commerce experience. To optimize sales conversions, analysts and business professionals must examine the user journey across many devices (including mobile, desktop, and in-store) and integrate a multi-channel strategy.
The Online Storefront is Expanded by Shopping on Social Media Platforms
Hundreds of millions of individuals use social media platforms on a daily basis. While many businesses recognize the importance of having a strong social media presence for marketing purposes, they are increasingly seeing these platforms as viable venues to make direct sales.
More than half of Instagram users use the app to shop for goods. Many online consumers use Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media sites to get shopping inspiration. Allowing social media users to make purchases within the networks they already use makes the shopping process faster and easier with fewer steps.
Furthermore, social media platforms are highly suited for implementing augmented reality (AR) experiences. According to Deloitte research, 71 percent of shoppers said AR technology drives them to buy. Having the ability to test or try things increases the likelihood of making a purchase. More firms should investigate the possibilities of leveraging social media platforms to expand their online stores, given the expanding use of social e-commerce and the opportunities it brings for more engaging and personalized shopping experiences.
For store owners, the most important rule is to make the purchasing procedure as simple as possible. These digitally connected in-store solutions are solely focused on the customer and merchandiser’s tasks, since they not only complement digital sales but also assist you in reaching new audiences through a variety of previously unavailable digital technologies.
Online shopping may be the way of the future, and it will continue to expand even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, but it does not have to mean the demise of large retail chains and department stores.
As always, embraces change and is optimistic about the future of brick-and-mortar retail. These digital problems are requiring firms to adapt and provide a better consumer experience, aided by innovative technologies.