Technology is rapidly changing the landscape for retailers. Consumers want more flexibility to shop when and where it is most convenient for them. They are also looking for a more customized experience. Here are five trends that are starting to gain traction in the retail industry.

1. Video Chat

FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, and other video chat services are becoming more and more popular for video conversations. This technology is especially popular with families who are far apart. Businesses are also using video chat more and more to connect employees who are spread out across the country and across the world.

As people become more comfortable with video chat it will become another channel for consumers to speak one-on-one with a salesperson in the showroom. That futuristic videophone of the 1960s will start to become a valuable sales tool. Imagine sitting on your couch while a salesperson talks to you, answers your questions, and shows you the product you are most interested in. Companies like Whisbi are blazing the trails in the live video showroom experience.

 

2. The Mobile Smartphone Will Become A Shopping Assistant

NFC, beacons, and even special lighting are all being tested as a way to provide a richer in-store shopping experience with the consumer’s smartphone. Although, NFC, beacons, and “smart lighting” work in different ways they provide a similar experience.

A signal is sent to the consumer’s smartphone which indicates where they are in the store. Based on the location software can tell what the shopper is looking  at and and make recommendations on related items in another part of the store. For example, let’s say you are a motorcycle dealership and a customer is looking at one of your new models. While they are looking at a new bike a notification appears on their smartphone with a reminder to check out some riding gear that would go perfect with their new bike. Intrigued they asked the salesperson to see some of the gear. By knowing the customer’s location in the store you can learn about their specific interests and target upsells  to the customer based on those interests.

3. Social Networks Become Shopping Platforms

For several years now social media has been a place for retailers to market their products and interact with customers. Social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest are taking things a step further by allowing users to buy products directly on the social network. Twitter is testing a “Buy Now” button, and Pinterest is testing a “Buy it” button.

With these buttons both platforms are allowing users to buy the item they are looking at right in the social network. You just click buy and pay for your item without having to leave the social network. These features are going to eliminate friction and make it easier for customers to buy. This is going to be great for items that are good impulse buys. Pinterest is predicting that even bigger ticket items will be purchased by consumers who are ready to buy.

4. Adoption Of Mobile Payments Will Continue To Rise

The convenience and ease of mobile wallets are growing in popularity. Consumers want to be able to pay for things at retail locations with their smartphones. Why carry around cash or cards when you can pay with your smartphone?

As more and more retailers adopt Apple Pay consumers will expect to be able to pay with their iPhone more and more. Close to half of all cellphone sold are Android. You can expect Google or another company to get Android users online with mobile payments soon. Right now there is a bit of fragmentation. A number of companies are trying to become the dominant mobile payment provider. We will most likely see a couple of platforms win out. Just like Visa and MasterCard became the credit cards of choice you’ll see a couple of mobile payment platforms dominate.

5. Mobile E-Commerce Is Gaining In Popularity

Mobile traffic accounts for 46.5% of all online traffic. However, the majority of e-commerce purchases are still being made on the traditional desktop computer. 75% of actual purchases are made on the desktop and only 25% on mobile. The number of mobile purchases is only going to rise, though. As consumers become more and more comfortable with shopping on mobile completing a purchase is going to become more and more natural.

One of the biggest barriers holding back purchases on mobile is the check out experience. Smaller retailers, and even some of the bigger ones, haven’t optimized the checkout experience for mobile making it difficult to go through the process. Even just logging in to an e-commerce site on a mobile device can be a chore. An e-commerce site that remembers users, shipping information, and payment methods will go a long way to make it easier to complete an order on a mobile device.

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About the author

Damon Schopen designs and develops web-based software. He specializes in e-commerce, interactive websites, integrating software to allow sharing of data across systems, and customizing existing software applications to meet your specific needs. For the past 10 years Damon has helped a variety of companies develop the web-based software they need to do business with their customers.

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