Four Trends Defining a New Era of Shopping
Technology, consumer demands, and preferences, and the growing number of players in the shopping industry have always been the defining factors for changes within the industry and the trends that are anticipated by both consumers and retailers every year. With the past few years, the shopping landscape had seen numerous changes – from offline buying and transactions to augmented-online processes, and even towards strictly-online business proceedings.
However, there are four notable trends that are looking to be the big forces when it comes to defining the era of shopping as we know it.
Websites like Amazon, Warby Parker, Bonobos, and Birchbox, who were solely focused on eCommerce before, are not operating physical stores. This is an interesting trend seeing as, a few years ago, eCommerce was moving towards an online-only approach.
However, traditional stores still continue to drive the majority of retail sales, and maybe this is why this shift has started. In 2015, 85% of consumers still preferred to shop in physical stores according to TimeTrade research. Out of that 85%, 71% of consumers also responded that they would rather shop at a physical Amazon store than Amazon.com.
It’s no longer sufficient for eCommerce companies to sell online exclusively. It’s now equally important that these companies own a physical store, as well, because it is the prime spot for consumers to try products before they buy, where companies can partner up with local stores, or even serve as pick-up points for online shoppers. The convergence of the physical and digital realms of commerce is developing, and companies are starting to pick up on it and adjusting accordingly.
Like what the first trend explained, physical stores are far from being extinct. They still drive the overwhelming majority of retail sales, and consumer preferences still play in favor of physical stores. However, stores are now becoming more than just places where purchases happen. They are starting to evolve. Mere stores, before, have now become entertainment hubs and social destinations where shoppers can do more than just walk in and buy something.
With the growing number of evolving stores that are experimenting with more unconventional forms of retail, shoppers can now explore, learn, and connect even in these places. Retailers like Barnes & Noble, Sur La Table, and Lululemon have added other activities such as wine menus, cooking lessons, and even yoga classes to provide a different shopping experience for shoppers. Companies are also now experimenting with new store formats and locations for a different, more interactive, and more memorable experience.
As time frames for delivery times are shrinking, delivery options are now growing and this is a fact. Companies are now working harder and harder to minimize delivery waits for consumers. Urban online shoppers today can even expect deliveries of their orders in just a few hours after the order has been placed, while those in more rural areas can expect theirs in a few days rather than weeks.
Retailers are starting to explore new options to deliver packages more efficiently and economically. Some large retailers work together with their existing logistic partners to ensure that packages are delivered in the shortest amount of time possible, while others are taking advantage of services such as Instacart, Postmates, and UberRush to cut down on delivery timeframes. Other more unconventional means, such as self-driving cars and drones, delivering packages are also being developed.
Global Shopping Trends Shifts
Perhaps the biggest trend that influenced these other trends is the fact that the shopping trends that are now redefining the shopping industry aren’t limited to the US or any other particular country or region. They are happening worldwide.
This large-scale shift has influenced many other factors, such as Walmart partnering with JD.com (a massive eCommerce player with a highly-sophisticated nationwide logistics network) following the growing demands of Chinese shoppers and patrons of the company. This has given Walmart double its stakes through its new Chinese partner. This goes to show that the strong connection between eCommerce and retail stores, even globally, have been growing important and should not be overlooked.