The End of Online Shopping
Retail is going through difficult times and is suffering the consequences of both the economic crisis and the digitization of society. But fundamentally there's a bigger problem: stores often cannot keep up with the changing behavior of customers who are connected 24/7. However, there is hope for retailers that are willing to transform and embrace new business models.
The new economic paradigm can best be described as "onlife retail," where online and offline become one. This economy is based on four developments, each with its own dynamic: the smart economy, the sharing economy, the circular economy and the "glocal" economy. Combined, these four economies will result in huge social and economic changes.
The smart economy is technology driven — i.e., the digitization of society through big data, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotization, and the blockchain. It’s a new world and we can barely imagine its full impact and potential.
In the sharing economy, consumers and facilitating businesses join forces. Apps make it easy to share cars, tools and household appliances. People still want to make money though, so a new power equilibrium will emerge between "prosumers" and manufacturers, shops and marketplaces.
The circular economy is all about sustainability. The 10 R’s — from reducing waste to recycling materials, to reusing or refurbishing used products — cause the linear retail model to become circular. What does that mean for traditional business models? Both customers and retailers will need some persuading to adopt a circular mind-set.
In the "glocal" economy, the rise of global shopping ecosystems is as important as the national or local opportunities for larger retailers, shops and small niche players. Will retailers that reach back to the core values of the shopping landscape from the 1950s succeed? Retailers face huge challenges, but can also seize new opportunities arising from these global developments.
Customers in the 21st Century
A new generation of consumers with a new shopper DNA is here to stay. The onlife shopper has the power to make or break brands. All the stages of the customer journey have changed. "Finding" and "being found" are the very core of the orientation stage where the customer has access to an infinite number of goods. Retailers need to focus on being visible and relevant to the onlife customer.
Customers want to decide the time and channel through which goods and services are delivered. They expect a seamless payment method to be part of the customer journey. One-click purchasing will soon be replaced by no-click buy. Finally, retailers also need new solutions for the so-called last mile of delivery and handling returns, all while keeping an eye on sustainability goals. The customer is keen to maintain a relationship with retailers they can trust, especially when customer care is super personalized.
The Future of Retail and Society
All these changes require a thinking-on-your-feet approach by businesses. Traditional retail needs to embrace new business models — or else be wiped out. A willingness to disrupt or discard the old ways is essential to survival. As retailers are transforming into digital network companies, the global war on talent is on. The future of retail presents a whole new balance of power. Governments, companies and customers all need to take their responsibility to ensure endless opportunities for all and create the foundation for a new network society that's based on human dimensions.
Related story: 2 Things You Didn’t Realize Affect Your E-Commerce Sales