The holiday season is the busiest time of year for retailers, when amidst all the festivities and cheer, consumers are spending big. In 2018, the National Retail Federation forecast consumers would spend an average of $1,007 on decorations, candy, gifts, and more. However, the end of the year is also a critical time for retailers because it’s when they plan ahead and prepare for a new year. The holidays are an opportunity to consider investments in new technology and consumer experiences that can set retailers up for success in 2019 and beyond.
Here are four capabilities to consider as we move further into 2019:
1. Online to Offline
Consumers today want flexibility with how they order. Last holiday season, expanding the capabilities associated with buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) was essential. The idea behind BOPIS is to drive shoppers to the store, with the expectation they will buy more products once there. However, the pickup aisle for online orders and the checkout lines for in-store purchases are usually separate, which causes shoppers to spend twice the time in lines at stores during the crowded holiday shopping season. To avoid this trap and create a positive shopping experience, retailers should keep the online cart open and let shoppers add products they pick out during a store visit. This way, they can do a single checkout in the BOPIS aisle.
2. One-Click Ad Purchase
Every year, more and more people shop online and avoid the lines at stores. Internet Retailer predicts that 2018 will be a record high e-commerce holiday period, with shoppers spending $119.99 billion online, representing a 15.5 percent increase compared with 2017.
At the same time, the performance of digital ad budgets is at an all-time low. This is especially true on mobile phones, where the “secret” of turning ad views into conversions has yet to be found. Retailers should look for solution providers that can help convert digital ads with a one-click purchase experience. This is achieved by removing the friction associated with traditional checkout and leveraging the capabilities of existing digital multipurpose wallets.
3. Scan and Buy Through Social Apps
A few social platforms are starting to experiment with “scan and buy” capabilities, which allow shoppers to use their favorite social apps to point at items they see in-store and buy them online from that same retailer. These features not only provide a seamless, frictionless shopping experience, but also offer the opportunity to upsell based on a shopper’s social profile and preferences.
4. Livestream Commerce
Livestream commerce is an area that has started to emerge in a big way in Asia and is slowly making its way to the U.S. Essentially, online influencers get onto social livestreaming platforms during store visits (which may be previously arranged with store owners), and start showcasing products in the store to their worldwide audience. They include buy buttons in the live stream that allow the followers to buy the items being showcased with a quick click. Essentially it’s combining aspects of entertainment, influence, social media and one-click commerce. It forms an ideal channel to quickly get new customers from a broader audience than otherwise available through direct outreach.
In 2019, be innovative when thinking about how to create the optimal shopping experience for consumers that will not only boost sales, but improve bottom-line performance overall.
Amitaabh Malhotra is the chief marketing officer of Omnyway, a contextual digital commerce platform digitizing the retail space.
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