Convenience, online affinity and curiosity, are the characteristics of tomorrow’s customers, demanding investments in a cross-channel customer approach from online retailers. Certainly, it is easy to create a web shop today, using various tools on the Internet, good product ideas and a functional shop system alone are no longer enough for a successful online business. With the enormous changes in purchasing behavior, customer demands are shifting at the same time. The more it is important to be ahead of the times to prepare for the following trends:
Trend 1: A personalized online shop for every customer
Personalization is becoming a must-have for any online store for a good reason: Customers no longer want to be anonymous in connection with a company. They want online shops that respond specifically to their needs and pick them up with individual content on a personal and emotional level. A true individualization, which equals the personal sales talk at the point of sale (POS), can be implemented through intelligent, disruptive technologies. Operational Intelligence, for example, enables data-driven and fully automated distribution of individual content and a personalized online shop structure for each visitor. On the basis of different data, which are situational in origin, a separate, individually relevant shop is created for each customer by means of prescriptive analysis. There, products and content are placed and sorted in such a way that they meet the current needs of the respective visitor, hence, have the highest relevance for him. This guarantees an individual shopping experience.
Trend 2: Positioning mobile well
Whether tablet or smartphone, 'mobile' is and remains one of the most relevant trends in e-commerce. More and more people are taking advantage of the opportunity to shop mobile anywhere, anytime and are now making almost as many transactions on their mobile as they do on their desktop PC. Unfortunately, mobile shopping experiences offered by businesses are often falling short of the current zeitgeist of digitization. For this reason, online retailers should quickly start to customize their web sites user-friendly for mobile devices. For companies that have already overcome this hurdle and provide mobile shopping options, it is important to combine the individual channels for a consistent, seamless shopping experience.
Trend 3: Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)
Augmented reality (AR) is innovative and almost mainstream now, since this trend provides a solution to a big problem in e-commerce, namely trying out and trying on products. Where the in-store shopping had an advantage, online commerce is now keeping up. Through innovative applications, the customer is now able to experience products as in real life. An example of this is the virtual fitting of garments. This tool is a great relief especially for the fashion industry, as it is affected by a particularly high return rate. However, AR is already being used successfully in other sectors as well, enabling a product experience - in the truest sense of the word. For example, under the motto 'try before you buy', Ikea offers an app that allows the customer virtual living on a trial basis. Similar to AR, virtual reality (VR) is an instrument that guarantees customers physical shopping, without getting up from their couches. Because the big brother of AR goes one step further and allows customers a shopping spree effect by just wearing VR glasses. The consumer can check out the variety of products, inspect them and feel like being in a department store, even though he sits on the couch. Thus, online shopping is transmitted across all senses and guarantees a true shopping experience with "Wow!" effect.
Trend 4: Digitization in the traditional 'brick and mortar' business
Digitalization is also making its mark in stationary retailing by integrating digital services into the business model and linking the offline world with the online world - across all channels. The possibilities offered by the interaction of all channels seem almost limitless and are particularly successfully with services such as online reservations or the so-called 'Click & Collect'. Customers can conveniently purchase the products of their choice online and then review and take them home at the point of sale (POS). Due to the direct contact between customer and company, a personal relationship can be established. A pioneer who cleverly uses the opportunities of digitization for its in-store business is fashion giant Zara. Although still in the test phase, smart changing rooms make already a true customer dream: Each of these cabins has a tablet which, through prior scanning of the items brought in, can provide detailed product information, tips and advice on sizes and outfits, providing customers with a spectacular shopping experience. In addition, customers receive intelligent access to the entire assortment and can easily order non-existent products.
Trend 5: Innovative logistics
Another trend of online commerce is more in the background - logistics. Especially in a service-oriented society, customers want fast orders, direct shipping and easy returns. To meet these ever-increasing demands, online retailers must rely on innovative and smart options. Not only because of the high customer demands, but also in order to adequately cope with the rising desire to buy online, more and more robots are deployed in many warehouses. Because where people reach their limits, robots are just getting started. The fast and efficient functioning makes it possible to save logistical space and reduce cost - with direct transport of goods from the shelf to the shipping station. At this point, the next trend is already taking place, namely innovative shipping, which is faster, more efficient and realized directly on the day of the order. To ensure this new service promise, drones, subterranean delivery systems, and robots are already revolutionizing the world of delivery services through testing. (Source: odoscope)