The idea of actually going to a store, looking for a product, queueing for its payment, and finally bringing it home sounds like too much of a hassle nowadays. The availability and versatility of online stores have changed our preference in shopping. It seems that shopping trends as we know it have changed rapidly. Is it true, though?

The rapid change in shopping trends

Back in the 1990's up until the early 2000s, we could see how retail businesses were booming and how crowded it was in almost every shopping centers. But, in about a decade later, the online market has grown rapidly and consumer’s behavior has also been changed. These days, the majority of consumer prefer to shop online due to its advantages, such as:

  • The convenience of not having to visit the shop.
  • The item you have bought will be delivered to your door. Not to mention the fast delivery time since a lot of e-commerce businesses have provided a same-day delivery option.
  • The ease of product selection.
  • Better price or, sometimes, promotions.
  • There are neither crowds nor queueing for payment.
  • Saves more time.

That being said, in some certain circumstances, customers still prefer to shop offline because of these reasons:

  • Customers can see and touch the goods before buying it.
  • The delivery cost of online stores is in some cases too expensive.
  • The beauty of window-shopping.
  • The chance to consult with store representatives before choosing a product.
  • The ease of warranty claim and return process.
  • The guaranteed freshness of certain products like food, vegetables or raw meat.

However, most online buyers would still prefer to shop from online stores who also have an offline store so they can at least check the actual quality of their products when they decide to pay a visit one day. Most offline buyers have already done online research as well before buying a product in some stores.

The challenge that retail must overcome to compete in digital world

The booming of online shopping trend has led to a significant increase in online market shares each year. The retail industry has to deal with this crisis and quickly adapt to the situation. Those who fail to adapt will face the consequence of losing their business while other survivors are busily expanding their businesses online by implementing further innovations.

These innovations could be done in the form of opening an online store, developing a mobile app, and using social media as their sales channels. Having an online sales channel is not a simple task. In some circumstances, it requires business transformation, centralized data architecture, and also a big amount of investment.

After overcoming those challenges, this particular retail company would still need to compete with others in terms of marketing campaign strategy, creativity, and promotions while also maintaining customer’s loyalty to drive their online sales in the competitive market.

Large retail brands have already implemented the omnichannel retail strategy, allowing them to maintain their customers to keep on moving across channels with a consistent experience. This strategy enables customers to convert to any of these available channels they personally prefer.

How technology is used by retailers to stay competitive

In general, technology can speed up processes and offer cost-saving benefits to a company. Nowadays, there are various examples of how retailers implement technology innovation to improve customer experience, which results in saving costs and automating things.

Some of the recently popular technologies are chat-bots, AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), voice-based search, visual-based search, robots, and drones. The implementation of those technologies can boost customer experience and engagement in the most interactive ways which can reduce the operational costs efficiently while increasing sales. Nevertheless, the retail company should be able to do really good research to choose which technology fits their business best.

As a conclusion, we are now fully aware that to survive and thrive in the digital world, all retailers must be prepared to adapt to technology. Putting faith in old-fashioned strategy and hoping that it still “hits the spot” these days will no longer work because your competitors are already a few steps ahead, innovating their way into success.

Author: Richan Fongdasen (Technical Director)