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Future of Retail 2019

Three ways technology is changing expectations and enhancing shoppers’ experiences

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Liderina

Mark Adams

Vice President and General Manager, BigCommerce EMEA

The global ecommerce market is currently valued at over US $3 trillion, according to Internet Retailer. Almost half (45%) of UK consumers purchase online at least once a week. It’s no secret that Brits love online shopping, but increasingly they are also looking for brands that offer an experience.

Around three quarters of consumers will simply abandon their shopping cart if they don’t feel they are getting the best shopping experience.  

We’re living in a time when competitors are just a Google search away, making the experience offered just as important as the product itself. If a customer has a pleasant experience with your brand, you have a better chance for referrals, increased loyalty, and repeat purchases.

As a result, more online retailers are turning to technology providers to meet changing expectations and enhance their customers’ journey.

So how does data play a part in building these revenue-generating experiences?

Website data can help curate shopping experiences

A customer’s shopping experience starts – and stops – within seconds of entering a retailer’s website.

Everything from design to speed has a drastic effect on bounce rate. Adobe found more than a third (38%) of consumers will leave a website if they find the design to be unattractive, and over half (53%) of mobile browsers leave sites that take longer than three seconds to load. And guess what? They don’t return.

Creating a good user experience (UX) for customers helps your overall brand growth by enticing customers and promoting brand identity, while also generating data – the key to understanding customers’ wants and needs.

Driving repeat business in a competitive market with reduced loyalty is a priority for retailers. By harnessing data, retailers can ensure the right product is delivered by the right carrier through a personalised experience. For retailers to know their VIP customers – those who have a high lifetime value – is one thing; treating them with a personalised VIP experience that drives trust and loyalty at scale is much more.

By leveraging transaction data to not only identify the most-valued customers, but to create a specialised shopping experience, retailers are better positioned to drive the customer loyalty they seek.

Instagram has changed the face of social commerce

Online shopping is no longer confined to retailers’ websites. Shopping on Instagram, for example, brings together the power and influence of social with the convenience of ecommerce, creating a shorter, less complicated path to purchase.

More than 800 million people use Instagram every month. Sixty per cent say it’s where they discover new products and more than 130 million users tap shoppable posts each month.

If a customer sees an item they like on the platform, but there’s no way for them to buy the item or access the site, retailers risk losing that sale. Capabilities like Instagram Checkout offer users a simple way to purchase items they discover without even leaving Instagram.

What’s more, a strong Instagram presence is key to creating a deeper connection with consumers. The brands they follow on Instagram are ‘hand-picked’, allowing retailers to deliver tailored content and personalised engagement as well as a simplified purchase process. Combined, they make the time spent interacting with brands on the social network worthwhile for consumers.

Closing the online buying loop through simple returns

When shopping online, consumers can’t test products before purchasing. This makes generous returns policies, including a pre-paid returns label, an expectation among 37% of UK customers – which retailers need a process to handle.

Online retailers must think strategically about how they manage their returns policy, balancing business sustainability with customer benefit, particularly since this issue will only grow as businesses begin to handle greater volume of returns.

Automation is one possible solution to this problem, especially if an ecommerce site operates through a SaaS platform, such as BigCommerce. This allows the easy integration of plug-ins to manage returns, such as ZigZag, which helps merchants administrate stock efficiently. 

Working with over 60,000 retailers across the world, we understand the impact that ever-changing consumer expectations is creating. While technology has ultimately been the catalyst behind this evolution, it also provides retailers with the tools to automate, analyse and personalise their offering. It’s down to the retailers to ensure they continue innovating if they want to remain relevant in a crowded and fast-paced, digital market.

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