Symbiotic relationship between shopper and technology drives 2020 online retail trends

Online shopping. Picture: Shutterstock
Online shopping. Picture: Shutterstock

Consumer demands for a frictionless, personalised experience which caters for lifestyle needs are set to drive online retail trends this year. The result is a focus on creating a customised experience that supports and enhances shopping in the virtual environment, facilitating the buying journey.

Derek Cikes, commercial director at payment financial technology company Payflex, shares the top eight online retail trends for the year ahead.

1. Omnichannel retailing

As shoppers expand their touchpoints with a brand, the online and bricks-and-mortar channels will increasingly merge into a seamless omnichannel experience within the brand ecosystem. To facilitate this, merchants need to provide shoppers with an integrated shopping experience across all channels, allowing shoppers to browse, shop and return items across in-store and online channels.

2. Pop-up shops

This year will see pop-up shops expanding beyond brand awareness to provide shoppers with a curated shopping experience. Leveraging the scarcity and exclusivity principles associated with these temporary storefronts, shoppers will have access to novel or limited brand items. Brands, in turn, will have the opportunity to engage one-on-one with their customers while collecting shopper data.

This intimate connection will also enable pop-up stores to take on a new position of facilitating brand experiences rather than only focussing on the commercial aspect of retail.

By providing a compelling pop-up experience, brands are able to differentiate themselves and establish a unique relationship with their target market.

3. User experience

User experience will be optimised by leveraging online channels. Simplicity is the key, enabling the user to effortlessly navigate a website and find and acquire desired items.

This includes reducing the number of steps to complete a payment transaction, such as the seamless single-click checkout process which can dramatically increase sales conversions.

Our experience has shown that the Payflex one-click checkout process can reduce cart abandonment by a whopping 40% – a huge benefit for e-commerce merchants.

4. Online security

Concerns about online security and privacy are one of the key challenges to growing online sales in South Africa. To provide comfort to shoppers, 2020 will see a focus on creating secure online infrastructure and being transparent about the use of data so that shoppers feel comfortable sharing their financial information.

5. The customer journey

The year ahead will see online stores optimising the customer journey through each touchpoint with the brand. This will translate into establishing a strong online communications infrastructure, supporting customers through a variety of online and social media platforms throughout their purchasing journey.

This optimises the shopper’s online experience, allowing the next steps to follow naturally, thereby increasing conversions, customer retention and eventually brand advocacy.

6. Payment choices

Consumers are increasingly wary of incurring debt to purchase lifestyle goods, which has opened the door to alterative non-credit “pay later” solutions such as Payflex.

Customers want more control of their spending, encouraging the online retail industry to incorporate payment experiences which meet their needs, such as the free spending solution from Payflex, which can boost sales by 20% to 30%.

7. Online ubiquity

The increase in social media retailing demands a pervasive online brand presence where shoppers can engage in a seamless experience with the brand and buy products directly from social media channels in a contained, accessible environment such as Instagram.

8. Machine learning

The year will also leverage the capabilities of artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide more personalised shopping experiences. By using data and search history, merchants can curate products and services specific to the shopper’s needs and likes. This results in being able to customise each shopping experience, such as with sites like Amazon where automatic suggestions are made in addition to the purchase or music sites such as Spotify and Deeza, which leverage machine learning to provide a personalised playlist based on a user’s data, as well as online search and listening history.

The interrelatedness of consumer demands and technological innovations creates one of the central themes of online retail in 2020 – a symbiotic relationship between shopper and technology.

This will play out in new avenues of innovation which meet consumer demands while leveraging technology to create a meaningful online experience, moving shoppers further along the customer journey to facilitate successful conversions.

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