The success and failure of online retail are not what I am going to discuss in this article. Instead, I'd discuss the industry's readiness to embrace the upcoming trends, which are going to shape the future of retail. I'll also discuss how social media can function as a leverage for some of those trends.
Digital experiences for millennials
Almost all retail outlets are targeting millennials. Millennials stay online 24/7, which is why online retailer are doing their best to reduce the gap between the real world and the digital world, and bring them close.
To close this gap, they need to deliver an immersive experience to prospective buyers, the majority of whom are 18-30 years of age. They spend a whole day swiping their fingers on their mobile screens, sliding up and down, right and left. To them, the reality is more digital and less physical. Their purchasing power and willingness to buy can only be triggered when a retailer entertains them through digital experiences.
Connecting to millennials is not easy. Maintaining the connection is even more difficult than forming it. Here are some of the guidelines that instruct how retailers can connect to mobile shoppers between 19 and 34 years of age. Suggestions such as using social media to reach the millenials, optimizing the shopping experience regardless of the device being used, etc are very effective.
Global or local
Choose a theme. If it's a global theme, make sure your business has a global presence. If it operates on a local basis, choose a local theme. Social media gives you access to a large pool of users, but untargeted audience is as good as no audience.
Local search marketing strategies depend on citation and local keywords. Alongside, you'd have to consider the Pigeon update by the search engine giant because it deals with local search factors. Social media makes it even easier for you. Create a page with location specific tags, and see people, related to that location liking and commenting on it.
Putting your business on top on local business directories such as Yelp and Google Places also help. These are quasi-social networks as in they allow for users to build a network, but the network is business and consumer-experience focused.
If you adopt a global strategy, you'd have to expand your network's reach. Again, social media is at your service. Whicever marketing technique/s you choose, viral marketing, PPC ad marketing, guerrilla marketing or even word-of-mouth marketing, social media can bolster that.
I won't be surprised if in 2016, the global and local retail platforms part ways because their differences would continue to become prominent in coming years.
Not many retailers have given this a shot. They should. In-store retail experience can account for transparency. Aside from that, when the experience gets shared on social media, the popularity of the brand might spread like a wildfire.
An online retailer doesn't have to put long and voluminous content on its site, he doesn't have to upload stock photos of the products that he sells. He can simply embed an application that takes users on a virtual tour and shows them which products are on the offer.
The 3D led augmented reality can take the in-store experience to a new level. Tommy Hilfiger, a US based fashion and accessory company has recently announced it'd offer a virtual reality shopping experience at some of its outlets. Imagine all retail networks are doing this and consumers are not even visiting the retail stores. 3D virtual reality and its web applications can turn this imagination into a reality.
Mobile payment systems like Google Wallet may give way to digital currencies. I won't be surprised if more and more buyers start to use digital currencies on e-commerce platforms.
With that being said, I am apprehensive because Bitcoin's one-of-a-kind image has been smeared by unfortunate incidents of fraud and online theft. But that's less of a worry as the advantages of Bitcoin for ecommerce sites are too many.
My apprehension is the best mobile commerce checkouts may refuse to accept digital currencies. Bitcoin does have a payment gateway API, but integrating the API with top e-commerce CMSs like Magento, osCommerce or WooCommerce, may be troublesome for developers.
We need to wait
Will the trends discussed here indeed arrive in 2016? We don't know that for sure as these are all speculations. We need to wait for a few months to have our doubts cleared.