We live in a world where we can shop for a great pair of hiking boots on our smartphones during our morning commute, buy it at our desk during lunch hour and drive to the seller’s brick and mortar store to pick it up after work.
This overlap of multiple retail channels for a single purchase was unheard of just a handful of years ago. Today, it’s the norm. Over 33% of all online holiday purchases in 2015 were picked up in-store. Retailers are aggressively competing to ensure they reach the shopper on every platform they use.
So how is this multichannel retail ecosystem going to evolve into in 2016? Here are the top 6 trends according to us:
Almost All Shoppers Will Channel-hop
The number of people with access to multiple retail channels is growing at an explosive rate. This has resulted in the birth of the ‘channel-hopping’ consumer – one who uses online and offline channels alike. With 86% of shoppers around the world shopping on at least 2 channels now, channel-hopping is a reality retailers and brands will have to come to terms with.
Online Platforms Will Influence Offline Sales Even More
We already know that shoppers research products online, and shop both online and offline. However, the extent to which online platforms and digital content will influence retail purchases will radically expand in the year ahead. This means your ads should mirror your product catalog, which should reflect the actual inventory your stores carry. In other words, consistent, clean and updated product data is a necessity.
Shipping Innovations Will Become More Popular
We’ve been hearing about drone deliveries and 3-D printed products waiting for us at our doorsteps. While those scenarios are still down the road, what 2016 will see is a revolution in retail deliveries. From ship-to-store, to same-day deliveries to distributing inventory geographically, retail will witness innovations in the way they fulfill and deliver customer orders.
Mobile Traffic Will Grow, So Will Conversions
In 2014, mobile traffic overtook desktop browsing with the increased adoption of smartphones around the world. 2015 saw mobile searches topping desktop searches, a point frequently referenced by Google. Mobile has been steadily growing its share of traffic to retail sites as well, but with conversions lagging far behind. With the growing adoption of mobile payment systems like Apple Pay, Visa Checkout and more, mobile conversions for retailers will be the next milestone.
Social Commerce and Search Commerce Will Take Off
Online shopping will no longer be restricted to retailers’ websites or marketplaces. Social networks like Pinterest (soon, Facebook), search engines like Google (Google Shopping Campaigns, Purchases on Google) and Bing (Bing Shopping Campaigns) are getting in on the retail action.
Pre-requisites to Attract Multichannel Shoppers
Retailers and brands can no longer make strategic decisions for one channel without considering their fallout on other channels. 2016 will present the need for new directives for multichannel retailers, including a wide product assortment, low prices and rapid deliveries.
All in all, 2016 promises to be the year of unified commerce; a year where multiple retail channels will work with each other to provide users a seamless, friction-proof shopping experience.