Looking at any retailer, you begin to understand the changes that 2020 has brought to shopping and the retail industry. The terms curbside pick up, contactless payment, and even shopping by appointment are now everyday occurrences for everything from shopping in a boutique to shopping for groceries. 2020 has forced shoppers to change their purchasing habits, and in turn pushed the retail industry to adapt, and adapt quickly.
With everyone confined to their homes in the spring of 2020, online shopping increased 77% this year, totaling $82.5 billion in May alone. This forced change in behavior has led to a permanent change in consumer behavior and expectations, and will have a lasting impact on both eCommerce and the retail industry. One click purchasing, price comparisons in seconds and shopping across multiple platforms are just the start. Here are a few key changes that the retail industry have embraced in 2020, and how to stay ahead in this ever changing world.
More than ever, customers want to make a connection. 2020’s most successful stores stand out in how they’ve optimized their online experiences to connect on a human level to their customers. From real time tracking of customer’s online browsing to digital consultations for things like skincare and fashion, brands are more responsive to online chat support and social media support. Augmented reality is becoming more readily available to help picture what a product will look like on you or in your home.
This rise of customer service reminds you of shopping in the past as well. Instead of going into a store, choosing your items and doing self checkout, brands are bringing back a more personalized customer service. Shop by appointment and on-demand video calls are giving consumers a more personalized approach to something that has become very impersonal. Expect to see the brands that put an emphasis on top notch customer service and customer experience to come out on top.
Companies are capitalizing the rise in screen time among consumers. Sales via social media platforms are climbing, due in part to the ease of shopping on social media. Facebook launched shops earlier this year, joining Instagram with shoppable posts. Google launched Shoploop, enabling retailers to create shoppable videos. Many platforms are also making it easier to shop across platforms. Explore a product on Facebook, jump to the company’s website to make a purchase or shop in store. Some even have apps that sync with everything to show you an item’s exact location within a store.
Payment processing is getting easier as well. New methods are being introduced to make contactless payment even easier for both consumers and retailers. Old credit card processors are going by the wayside, because soon you can process credit cards without a card reader. What does this mean for the future? More social media shopping is going to give marketers a wealth of information leading to more specific ad targeting, a better personalization of suggested products and increased sales.
Let’s call it the Amazon effect. With more consumers buying online, retailers have to find a way to ship quickly. Everyone is used to 2-day shipping from Amazon, and retailers are having to find a more efficient shipping solution to compete. Even retail giants! Walmart is offering a plus service, with a lower annual membership fee to compete with Amazon. Enhanced delivery options like shipping from the store to a customer’s home, or curbside pick up from an online purchase are causing retailers to rethink their supply chains, turning some stores into mini-fulfillment centers.
Look for many retailers to keep focusing on fulfillment. Hyperlocal delivery has focused mainly on household necessities and groceries, but major competitors are already gearing up for the switch. Speed wins in this eCommerce era, and the retailer that can optimize local with big names will come out better. Everything will be tested this holiday season as customer expectations will increase all aspects of retail.
Director of Marketing & Media
Kristin loves coffee and reading, in that order! She drinks the coffee and makes the things for eGlobalUSA.