With this year’s holiday shopping season well under way, several retail trends are emerging that will continue to have an impact beyond the end of 2014. Retailers are gathering data that will not only enhance the shopping experience (online or in-store) for customers, but will ensure continued success through the new year. Here are a few predictions for what shopping will look like in 2015.
The Mobile Consumer
Today’s consumer is both well connected and well informed. According to a report, 36 percent of holiday purchases in 2014 are expected to be made via mobile devices, up 7 percent from last year. Today, there’s not much a consumer can’t do on a mobile device that they can on a laptop: they can search, view, compare, read reviews and buy with one single tap. Ninety percent of retailers now offer an online marketplace and, in fact, many retailers are opting for a “mobile first” approach, optimizing their websites first for mobile devices and secondly for web. In 2015, more retailers will go “mobile first” and even more shopping will occur on mobile devices.
Try Before You Buy
Despite the increasing preference for online shopping, consumers still see the value of “try before you buy.” Having the ability to try on a shirt or experience how a Bluetooth speaker sounds are important determining factors when buying an item. In 2014, subscription services like Trunk Club and Birchbox—both of which send customers physical goods via an online subscription—gained popularity because they combined the convenience of online shopping with the physical aspects offered from a storefront. These types of services allow consumers to personalize their shopping experience and choose what to try on before deciding what to buy— essentially, bringing the store home. A personalized shopping experience will be essential to the 2015 consumer.
The Engaged Retailer
As a greater number of consumers seek personalized shopping experiences, retailers need to tailor marketing efforts to the individual in 2015. While mass marketing campaigns promising 25 percent off random items the retailer believes will sell can still work, retailers are starting to see even greater returns by targeting the consumer on an individual level. It’s a total change in thinking from the traditional campaign mentality of pushing what you have rather than matching the customer with the supply. Let’s say a clothing retailer knows that Joe Consumer bought swim trunks in its store in June. Via big data culled from its loyalty program, which Joe belongs to, if Joe hasn’t made another purchase within three months or so and passes by the same store, a customized offer for 30 percent off a pair of outdoor sandals can be pushed to his mobile device in real time. Personalized marketing platforms will enable retailers to maximize their outreach efforts, improving both sales and the customer experience. In 2015, retailers that don’t use big data to personalize their marketing efforts will miss out on possible revenues and, more importantly, lose loyal customers to businesses that offer a custom and personal shopping experience.
The Smart Wallet
In line with an increase in mobile use for retail purchases, 2015 will bring simplification and expansion to the payment process, both online and in physical locations. Apple Pay has already been adopted by many retailers and as more consumers get comfortable with mobile payments, it’s very likely its adoption numbers on both the consumer and retailer sides will increase. Mobile carriers AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile recently launched a similar app, called Softcard, and later in 2015, Android is speculated to unveil its version of Apple’s new mobile payment system. And as more consumers adopt wearable technology, it won’t be long before mobile payments extend to smart watches and other smart accessories.
2015: The Year of the Data-Driven Retailer
Times, they are a-changing. Today’s consumer is more tech-savvy, mobile-oriented and comfortable with mobile payments. Their shopping habits are changing, fast, and most retailers have struggled to keep up. But with the right data at the right time, retailers can give customers what they’re looking for: a personalized, engaging experience that gives them what they want and when they want it. Responding to trends and the movement of technology will bring retailers to the customer’s digital doorstep and make for a very prosperous new year.