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10 Retail and E-Commerce Trends to Watch

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Following NRF Retail’s Big Show in New York and HUBDAY’s “Future of Retail & Commerce” expo, here’s our take on 2017’s emerging trends…

During both events, leading brands and experts came together to shed light on the latest and greatest innovations, business cases and best practices in the retail and e-commerce sector. This year, Smart stores, AI, marketplace, m-commerce, online payment, data, data locality optimization and customer experience were among the most buzzworthy topics. Understanding retail’s latest technologies and the factors driving tomorrow’s business strategies was a focal point of these gatherings.

“We’re seeing more and more in-store products and experiences that are being ultra-personalized. Innovations are being directed toward sales people so that they might better advise their customers. AI is also being introduced into applications. Chatbots are cropping up everywhere and becoming a new distribution channel linked to e-commerce websites” shared Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne, General Manager EMEA, co-founder, and associate of The Social Client, digital consulting agency, and a subsidiary of Group Acticall Sitel.

Casino, Auchan, Sephora, Salesforce Orange, Clarins, Forrester… all brands present agreed on one central issue:

“Today, retailers are compelled to create an ultra-personalized experience.”

In an era where customers are always connected — brands have to perform and innovate in order to offer solutions and services that meet the customer’s new, higher set of expectations.

 

Ten trends from HUB Day’s “Future of Retail & E-commerce” event:

 

1. Focus on customer culture

“Customer Centric” culture is every company’s new mantra. It’s informing every strategy and is no longer general management’s exclusive domain. “As far as culture goes, it’s important to track and measure our customers’ experience with various tools. All of our agents must apply their focus and energy to the customer‘s needs.” underlines Thierry Plantegenest, Chief Customer Experience Officer for the Renault Group.

Vincent Ducrey, Hub Institute co-founder, may have phrased it best during his introduction: “Authenticity, trust, and transparency are the three fundamental values required for building a strong Customer Culture.”

2. Mobile technology at the heart of the purchasing journey

We’re already talking about a mobile revolution, catalyzed by the rise of chatbots and AI. M-commerce is reinventing itself every day in order to generate more conversations, increase personalization, but also simplify the customer’s purchasing journey. Consumers want “fewer apps and more services.” They’re expecting new services that will optimize their purchasing experience, as well as a simplification of the “click & collect” process where you can retrieve your order anytime, anywhere.

 3. Payment becomes invisible

Contact-less payment, Touch ID, chatbots, invisible barcodes… a few of the decisive new trends transforming instant payment and replacing the use of credit cards. Time saved, simplification, immediacy are what customers are currently craving. Making payments invisible, even fun, is a trend that’s gaining incredible momentum.

4. Frictionless shopping

V-commerce is upon us. “We’ve reached the age of V-commerce: Vocal Commerce”, explains Vincent Ducray. Our voice has become a privileged interface for online searches and commands. The term designates all forms of commerce through which an order or purchase is completed by vocal command. Still, in its early stages in France, it was nevertheless one of the star topics presented in New York. Streamlining the customer’s purchasing process… shopping with minimal effort.

5. Fewer products but more experiences

“Stores are no longer just pushing products, they’re pushing experiences forward”. It’s important to identify the right contact point in order to interact with customers at the right time.

6. Slow retail: more in-store services

Slow retail consists of delivering services at the retail outlet in order to retain the customer as long as possible: coffee, iPhone charger… anything that has a hold on the customer. The customer must enjoy a unique experience at the retail outlet. “Customize & Buy”, “Try & Buy” or “Buy & Get Installed” are the new goals brands are setting for themselves…

7. Virtual and augmented realities…

Experiments are multiplying, consumers are gradually becoming more equipped. Virtual reality will provide augmented in-store experiences for customers within a few years.

8. In-store geo-mapping & analytics

“Geolocation applications are being developed. Beyond that, drones and mikes can be used to produce in-store analytics.”, describes Vincent Ducrey. The idea being to better capture and respond to behaviors in stores.

9. New in-store staff roles

Super-connected customers continue shopping at retail stores, though only a fraction claim it’s the support they get from sales people that draw them to stores. It’s important to reconfigure the business model around sales people. They need to be more connected to customer data in order to bring a more personalized and relevant level of support. “We must, therefore, find the right offer, for the right customer at the right time.” Personal shoppers have been in fashion for some time, as they can genuinely tailor the shopping experience to the consumer’s specific needs.

10. Logistics

Logistics are capturing everyone’s attention in terms of retail. Since the advent of chatbots, the world of retail has been changing considerably. Errand running robots (Starship, delivery bot from Starship Robotics) or autonomous cars: These novelties are revolutionizing retail… Drones are also appearing to assist in taking stock inventory at retail warehouses.

HUB Day’s “Future of Retail & E-Commerce” event proved to be a thrilling day bursting with innovative solutions, visionary ideas, and strategies. All in a spirit of exchange helping to collectively pave the way for e-commerce and retail’s future.


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