Retail industry trends you need to incorporate into your digital strategy

By Karin Kelley

| Retail

The retail industry has gone through massive changes over the past decade. The revolution started with the introduction of e-commerce, and online sales have had a steady yearly increase ever since. According to a joint report by eMarketer and Forrester Research, e-commerce sales are expected to grow to nearly $500 billion by 2018.

Though it would be difficult to find a major retailer that hasn’t already developed an online presence to meet the increase in demand for e-commerce, new retail industry trends are constantly emerging to create those seamless customer experiences. The bottom line is that consumers are shopping from multiple channels, expect personalized service and want their purchases fulfilled in the most convenient ways possible.

The following are some retail industry trends to keep in mind as you ramp up your digital transition:

1. Seamless customer experiences

Because customers are using multiple channels throughout their shopping journeys, retailers are ramping up their respective strategies. This involves integrating interdependent systems on the backend, including point-of-sale, inventory, e-commerce and mobile commerce (m-commerce), distributed order, warehouse and transportation management systems. These systems also need to integrate with fulfillment centers, including brick-and-mortar stores, warehouses, web fulfillment centers and inventory in-transit.

2. Cloud-based supply chain management

Today’s customers want more control over where they place their respective orders and where they will receive them. With cloud-based supply chain management (SCM) systems in place, retailers can have a clear view of all inventory across multiple channels and locations. They can also provide customers with options on how to receive them or make quick fulfillment changes as necessary. Customers are increasingly choosing to buy products online and pick them up in the store or buy them online and return them in the store.

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3. Location-based technologies

Though e-commerce and m-commerce are on the rise, customers do still want to go to the store to actually see and touch items. They typically start with online searches from their mobile devices to actually find store locations. When people are in the store, beacon technology and a mobile app can help guide them to products they might be interested in — provided they opt-in.

4. Personalization

Thanks to data analytics, retailers can provide customers with highly personalized experiences, whether they’re online, in-store or using a mobile device. Many customers will use their mobile phones while looking at a product in the store to find competitive deals online. In addition, if sales associates have a mobile device that gives them instant access to the customer’s product preferences, purchasing history and information about past customer service interactions, they can save the sale by offering competitive deals, promotions and cross-sell and upsell recommendations.

5. Mobile checkout and payments

It’s no secret that customers hate standing in long lines. By giving them the option to check out through their own mobile devices or from a sales associate on the floor armed with a tablet or smartphone, they are more likely to make their purchases. Customers are also starting to use mobile payment technologies more and more. With this isn’t nearly ubiquitous, digital wallets will undoubtedly become a preferred method for consumers in the near future.

There’s no question that the retail industry is changing at a rapid pace. In this new integrated world, mobile will play an ever-increasing role, and companies that don’t take these trends into account to develop solid strategies will not be able to compete without a significant investment in IT.

Written By

Karin Kelley

Independent Analyst & Writer

Karin is an independent industry analyst and writer, with over 10 years experience in information technology. She focuses on cloud infrastructure, hosted applications and services, end user computing and related systems management software and services. She spent nearly eight years…

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