Baseball enthusiasts may disagree, but when you run the numbers, “retail therapy” is officially America’s favorite pastime. As a nation, we love going to the mall, window-shopping, and coming home with new gadgets and toys.
At least, this used to be the case.
In recent years, this time-honored tradition has evolved as retailers increasingly welcome a new breed of American consumer — one whose shopping preferences and technological knowhow are vastly different from anything we knew before.
With the rise of e-commerce, for example, it became possible to shop without ever leaving your home. The fact that major brands from JCPenney to RadioShack to Macy’s have all started closing their brick-and-mortar locations is a testament to this nationwide shift.
This one change is just scratching the surface.
Here are many other e-commerce retail trends to look for.
1. Mobile vs. Online Shopping
2016 was the first year in which mobile browsing surpassed traditional desktop and laptop browsing. This trend wasn’t simply limited to online screen time. It trickled into consumer spending habits as well.
In 2017, for example, there were over 2 billion mobile e-commerce transactions. By 2020, the number of connected devices is expected to double worldwide.
The takeaway is that your business must have a responsive, mobile-ready website. It’s how customers increasingly prefer to interface with stores and businesses. When designing its search algorithm and ranking factors , Google primarily looks at the mobile version of a company’s website.
2. Experiences vs. Things
There’s now a growing emphasis on experiencing things instead of simply owning them. This trend is especially pronounced among millennials — a demographic that overwhelmingly prefers buying concert tickets or dining out over acquiring electronic gadgets and other consumer items.
The takeaway is that you should expand your offerings to accommodate this growing desire for experiences over things. Even if you run a traditional brick-and-mortar store, it’s possible to add experiential elements.
- Nordstrom recently began launching stores that don’t carry inventory at all. Instead, these specialized locations provide in-house makeovers and styling tips.
- IKEA now offers augmented reality apps that overlay 3D models of the company’s furniture in a user’s home.
Pivots like these are relatively easy to do if you work in the fashion industry or if you have the money to “gamify” furniture shopping. Yet, even if you primarily sell power drills, there are still opportunities to offer carpentry classes or DIY workshops. Alternatively, you could take a page out of the sharing economy manual and start renting out your tools instead of simply selling them.
3. The Changing Face of Advertising
Print advertising, banner ads and TV commercials are still relevant in 2018. However, there’s now a much greater emphasis on omni-channel marketing — with special attention paid to social media.
According to a 2018 study, social media is now one of the “most important factors in a purchasing decision,” with roughly 55 percent of consumers buying new products as a result of “social media discovery.”
It would be a mistake to gloss over the importance of social media advertising.
Yet, this approach is a double-edged sword. As more retailers flock to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, ad rates continue to skyrocket.
However, one way to maximize the return on your ad spend is to rely more heavily on quantitative data. With analytics and reporting, it’s possible to accurately measure the impact of your advertising campaigns on actual sales. This allows you to see what’s working (and what isn’t) so you can make the necessary adjustments.
4. Businesses as Consumers
There’s one final shift of which you may not be aware. Consumers are no longer the biggest spenders when it comes to e-commerce.
Instead, businesses are now the driving force behind most online purchases. In 2017, for example, B2B e-commerce generated nearly $7.7 trillion in sales, which is more than three times what the $2.3 trillion B2C market generated.
How do you tap into this growing opportunity? After all, gamifying big ticket items is very difficult. Corporate decision-makers don’t necessarily respond to hyper-targeted social media campaigns the way consumers do.
It’s still possible, though, to implement commonsense strategies to make your offerings more relevant to corporate stakeholders.
Consider payment solutions that are carefully tailored for B2B sellers and buyers. These offerings may include:
- Secure online payment gateways for B2B e-commerce merchants
- Mobile payment processing for those who frequently sell at off-site events
- Advanced fraud management tools to help safeguard sensitive payment data
Preparing for the Biggest Retail Trends of 2019
The retail landscape evolves so quickly year over year. Despite these rapid changes, one component remains constant — our commitment to providing you with the tools you need to stay ahead of the retail curve.
If you’d like to learn more about our PCI-compliant payment solutions, schedule a free consultation with our merchant services team today.