E-commerce is changing fast, and retailers need to stay on top of the technological and societal trends that will affect the way they do business in 2015. In this article, we will run down some of the most important emergent topics for 2015 and how retailers can adapt to them.
Omnichannel and Mobility
The spread of tablets and smartphones has increased over the last year, and that trend will continue as these devices become more popular, more affordable, and more useful. For retailers, that means that there is a proportionally higher amount of potential customers who could be reaching the retail portal through mobile devices. It is becoming more and more important to have a strong presence in all possible channels. Retailers need to prepare their mobile sites to handle as many functions as possible. Customers will increasingly demand a complete shopping experience through a mobile channel, instead of just a showroom or placeholder that directs the customer to the full site to complete their order or check their loyalty program status.
The Customer is Always Right
It’s an age-old adage, but in 2015, it is more true than ever. Customers are using their information access to search for products across many channels, and they are more willing to compare similar products from different brands. Better online stores have created more price transparency, which means customers have an easier time than ever finding a cheaper or better alternative. Retailers can’t get away with offering products that don’t have competitive prices and quality, because with so many options and easy searching, consumers can find a good deal very quickly. Retailers are going to need to be just as fast, keeping an eye on their competitors and constantly making sure their prices are in line with what customers can find elsewhere. If a better deal exists somewhere else, then customers are going to find it, and they will find it fast.
The Rise of Social Media
There is no doubt that social media is now becoming a critical outlet for retailers. It’s a way to announce sales, receive and respond to feedback, and manage the brand’s image. Social media has the feel of an informal, direct connection to the consumer, so it is an important channel for seller-buyer communication. Every retailer needs to start building a social media presence if they don’t already have one. On top of that, local listings sites like Yelp and Angie’s List are becoming important sources for reviews. Not all retailers fit into one of the categories of sites like these, but for those that do, maintaining a good image is an important means to bringing new customers in the door.
Being able to take advantage of these trends will be crucial to retailer success in 2015. The world of retail is becoming more and more dominated by advanced communications, mobile devices, Big Data, and tech-savvy consumers. Retailers need to be ready to meet these challenges with a sophisticated and flexible strategy. They should expect that customers will both know and expect much more than they did in the past. That puts more pressure on retailers to deliver high value at good prices quickly and easily. If a consumer sees better deals somewhere else or experiences frictions in the purchasing process, it is incredibly easy to switch to a different retailer. This kind of competition against a globe of other sellers is a new phenomenon for 2015, and unprepared retailers will simply fade away.