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Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016: Reinventing Retail

Over the past few years, the annual Walker Sands Future of Retail study has been one of my favorite projects to work on. While we always keep a steady pulse on all things retail tech, it’s great to have the opportunity to be forward-thinking and ask some of the questions keeping us, our clients and other industry leaders awake at night and better understand what’s to come in this exciting industry.

Future of Retail

Our previous Walker Sands Future of Retail studies have analyzed the rise and adoption of emerging retail technologies. We’ve placed a heavy focus on gauging consumer reactions to potential game-changers and the increased traction of online and mobile shopping. We’ve also explored changing habits of today’s shoppers as e-commerce itself becomes more popular.

It’s safe to say the last couple of years in retail technology have been a whirlwind. We’ve seen the growth of technologies such as drones and virtual reality. We’ve benefited from the evolution of personalization and real-time features thanks to the advancement of headline-grabbing mobile commerce technologies. We’ve watched the success and failures of major players like Apple Pay and Alibaba’s IPO.

Still, it’s really only been recently that these exciting emerging technologies have seen much real-life use or case for retail experiences.

This year’s study of more than 1,400 U.S. consumers indicates that the rise of online shopping has reached a saturation point and that the real success of brands and retailers will now come from the combined, omnichannel experience. Our 2016 study reveals major areas for growth within the omnichannel ecosystem and focuses on key strategies for brands and retailers to capitalize on the increased frequency of online purchases. Our findings also tackles how brands and retailers can boost market share through an improved customer experience.

In particular, our study highlights four very pragmatic areas of focus for retailers in 2016:

  1. Today, the steady growth of online sales comes from the increased frequency of consumers shopping online. Top drivers for consumers continue to center on fast and efficient shipping, which makes supply chain and logistics more important than ever before
  2. Consumers are embracing the best of online and in-store experiences. This is forcing retailers to find ways to combine the two with new and emerging technologies
  3. Luxury e-commerce is on the rise and will continue to see rapid growth in the years to come as consumers continue to become more comfortable making larger purchases online
  4. Millennials are comfortable using mobile device to pay retailers and their peers. This generation will fuel adoption in the years to come and force retailers to embrace mobile payments

One of my favorite parts of working in retail technology is its fast-paced nature. But this year, it’s exciting to have the chance to explore and learn more about what truly makes e-commerce work as retailers catch up to changing consumer expectations. This level of insight only makes us stronger e-commerce experts, better able to service our clients and their clients.

To learn more about the four points mentioned above or to see other exciting takeaways about the 2016 world of e-commerce, download the full Walker Sand Future of Retail Study here. Also, stay tuned for more analysis of this year’s findings to be posted to our blog!