The Future of Shopping? It’s Already Here.
Last week, when 25,000 people descended on Slush Helsinki 2019, we jumped into the fray and hosted a panel with Nosto and Videoly to share the biggest insights from our participation in PwC’s Future of Shopping program. In the 12-week collaboration, we worked to answer the question on every retailer’s mind: What will the future look like?
We hope you’re ready for it, because it’s already here…
The future is up to the customer
Today, the customer experience never stops. With multiple touchpoints, online and offline, you have to be able to offer a seamless, customized experience.
To do this, you have to start by knowing your customers, and how to shop for your product. If time and efficiency are essential, help them shop in a smooth and effortless way, like by offering self-checkout or expertize from your store associates depending on what kind of shopper they are. You can give them an outstanding experience with everything from the layout of your store and the knowledge of your team through to using a mPOS system or giving them the option to click and collect.
“It’s about setting consumer expectations from the start so people can make informed decisions and have a better shopping experience,” said Patric Lindström, Videoly’s Head of Sales & Partners. At Videoly, for example, they found that providing relevant product videos prior to purchasing reduced the number of returns by up to 20%.
“The fundamental levers of ecommerce haven’t changed: the number of visitors, conversion rate, and average purchase value,” said Patrick Obolgogiani, Nosto’s Head of Global Customer Success. “What has changed is our ability to break down the data and analyse it by page type or customer segment. Once you know what’s wrong, you can apply the right fix, and present the right content to the right people at the right time.”
The future is open
Thankfully, today’s cloud-based platforms with open APIs make it possible for retailers to constantly adapt to new data and changing behaviors. They also eliminate the manual processes that legacy systems require for transferring data and the headaches of installing version upgrades at every physical location – not to mention the subsequent problems when the update clashes with other systems.
With open APIs, retailers can apply a “best of breed” strategy, enabling them to easily add or subtract services and vendors. This offers a degree of flexibility for the future that legacy systems simply cannot compete with, like the ability to start a string of pop-ups, or transition from ecommerce to physical stores.
However, out-dated technology infrastructure can present such an overwhelming problem that many don’t know where to start. In the words of science fiction writer William Gibson, “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” Until retailers replace the old systems with the new ones, however, they will struggle to build the bridge between online and offline shopping.
“If you want to provide a seamless purchasing journey, you have to unite your channels and keep track of your data,” emphasized Sitoo’s Enterprise Sales Manager, Linnéa Ralmé. “If you want to succeed, this is the most important takeaway.”
The future is sustainable
Retailers face a range of difficulties, but the question of sustainability affects everyone, regardless of the size of the company or where they are on their journey: “How can we be sustainable when our core business has a negative environmental impact?” It’s a question being asked with more and more frequency from employees, investors and customers.
During the Future of Shopping program, the team discussed how digitalization might help make retail more sustainable. As a result of those discussions, they created a concept called Eco Prime, an app that would enable us all to make smarter, more sustainable shopping decisions.
Though we do not have a crystal ball to unveil the future, we can see the cutting edge. Events like Slush give us a way to track trends, and tools like Gartner’s Hype Cycle provide a glimpse into emerging technologies retailers can keep an eye on. On their last day in Helsinki, the team presented their prototype for a frictionless way to incorporate the bevy of information available online into the physical store and add value to the brand experience.
It’s not too late to see it for yourself. If you want to dive deeper into the future of shopping and discover how you can meet the challenges of new customer shopping behaviours head on and to embrace digitalization, we’d love to hear from you.
Please contact Sitoo, Nosto or Videoly.