Since stores are no longer confined to the four walls of their shop, retail processes and systems have been forced to adapt.
Now businesses face the tremendous challenge of evaluating new technologies and marketing tactics, and customers are the driving force behind the need for physical shopfront and digital integration.
Gen Y consumers have embraced the social side of technology, using the online world to conduct a huge chunk of their life, chief operating officer and eCommerce consultant Mark Freidin recently told SmartCompany.
Within this cross-channel dynamic, successful retailers should be catering for customers who want to make a purchase in-store or on a mobile device via a website or app. And that’s before you even start to think about multiple delivery and pick-up options.
Customers don’t care about the product pathway or process, says Freidin. What they do care about is getting their product delivered on time. You can see this high demand for speed in the uptake of the 90-minute delivery offer, which feeds off the ‘I want it now’ principle.
Secondly, customers now have blurred channel boundaries, embracing tablets, smartphones, brick-and-mortar stores and websites, so a seamless cross-channel experience is becoming vital for a retailer to survive.
Concepts such as digital gifting and services like Wrapp – social gifting that makes for quick and easy present purchases – have quickly become the norm, says Freidin.
The concept of the mobile wallet is becoming a reality, providing customers with another convenient way of making purchases via their mobile device wherever contactless cards are accepted.
Customers’ opinions can be seen and heard more loudly than ever thanks to social media, and as a result their influential opinions have become the new proof for credibility.
The concept of social commerce has helped businesses boost sales via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and other popular social media platforms, with client testimonials and ratings appearing across the business site and social media channels.
As Freidin notes: “What better way for buyers to gain confidence other than reading testimonials of other buyers?” Therefore, it’s important to embrace the commentary and find the right balance in how you present that commentary.
Purchasing on mobile apps
To assist customers as they move between devices, Freidin says there is growing popularity around responsive website design, allowing the site’s format to change to the size and capabilities of any given device.
If you haven’t already, developing a site that is optimised for mobile will make the buying process simple and streamlined. A responsive site will appear reformatted on the screen of a smartphone or tablet and still look great on the desktop.