What Is the Future of Retail?

Everyone knows where the retail sector has been. But leading technology providers know that staying ahead of the game means keeping tabs on the future of retail and understanding the trends that will shape retail in the months and years ahead.

At Walker Sands, we specialize in helping technology firms stay informed about the latest consumer behaviors and shopping preferences, positioning your organization to be top of mind as a credible expert for the media outlets that are important to customers and industry influencers.

Key Issues for Understanding the Future of Retail

There are multiple issues that need to be addressed when evaluating the future of retail and online consumer shopping behaviors. Over the years, we’ve worked with some of the nation’s fastest growing retail technology firms and discovered that although retail is constantly changing, several high-level categories are effective for identifying the future of retail.

1. Purchase Behaviors

B2B buyers as well as consumers are shopping online in greater numbers. In fact, the majority of consumers now make online purchases at least once a month and nearly a quarter report buying online one or more times a week.

In addition to understanding the frequency of online purchases, future of retail data is pivotal for understanding the types of products that are being shopped for online. It’s also important for gaining insights into the types of products that are primarily purchased from online giants like Amazon—and the types of products that are rarely, if ever, purchased from large e-commerce brands.

2. Shipping

Shipping is a major factor in online purchase decisions. With Amazon and other high profile e-commerce providers targeting shipping improvements as a way to enhance the overall customer experience, retailers of all shapes and sizes need to consider how their shipping capabilities compare to other online competitors.

There are many future of retail shipping trends that are important to consumers, including free-shipping, next-day (or same-day) shipping, free returns and exchanges, and easier return processes.

3. Online vs. In-Store

In the past, online and in-store were viewed as different or even competing retail channels. Those days are over, as consumers increasingly expect the line between online and in-store to blend into a single, seamless customer experience.

Although there are many strategies that retailers are using to combine online and in-store shopping behaviors, leading retail brands are achieving success by leveraging mobile technology and personalization for enhanced brick-and-mortar experiences.

4. Social Channels

The popularity of social media continues to drive consumers to engage with brands via the social channel. In fact, the social channel has quickly become an integral part of a robust omni-channel retail strategy, enabling retail brands to make direct connections with large numbers of new and existing customers.

Historically, access to coupons and promotions has been the primary motivation behind consumers’ social brand interactions. But when it comes to the future of retail, many brands are discovering that social has value beyond a simple promotional vehicle and can be used to foster new generations of retail brand advocates.

5. Payment Trends

Consumers are carrying less cash than ever before. Instead, they rely on credit cards to enable both online and in-store checkouts. This benefits retailers in several ways, including larger cart sizes and enhanced checkout capabilities.

Mobile payments represent the next stage in the evolution of the checkout process. However, many consumers aren’t aware of the benefits of mobile passbook-like apps—technology that offers additional opportunities for savvy retail brands.

Want to Know About the Future of Retail?

Walker Sands is a full-service PR and digital marketing firm. For more information or to download the latest Walker Sands Future of Retail study, visit www.walkersands.com/futureofretail

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