7 Ways Online Retailers Can Stay Ahead in 2014
In our 24/7-connected world, traditional retailers need to adapt to a new and even more competitive market. Consumer behavior is becoming smartphone-centric before, during and after purchase. Consumers can choose, at the last minute, amongst multiple online and nearby local retailers for the vast majority of their needs. They search an item and brand and engage via mobile first, whether it's outside of the home or in a physical store. They engage in real time, locally near a store and in the store itself. They monitor changing prices, special deals and coupons, new product availability, and more.
The physical store itself is becoming like a showroom where consumers come to see, touch and try products, as well as compare them with alternative solutions in real time. They then check to see if any special offers exist online and, as a result, oftentimes decide to postpone their transaction to make their purchase online. Furthermore, the physical store itself is increasingly becoming like a website, with smartphones being used like mouses to select and drill down into specific product information.
The in-store usage of smartphones is starting to resemble a personal shopping assistant, guiding the consumer through their "showroom" experience. The consumer sees something they like and, similar to the click of a mouse, reach for their mobile device to look up more information — e.g., customer reviews and competitive pricing.
That said, the smartphone user experience outside and inside of stores hasn't been well defined. New technologies are emerging that help retailers understand consumer in-store behavior and personalize their physical experience through apps, tracking codes on products, etc., but transacting via a smartphone is very different from a desktop or tablet. Desktops and tablets are in many ways close form factors when it comes to usage. With the smartphone, we have a personal device and a small screen that's with us 24/7 that will likely continue to become the center of our online usage.