Retailers must understand tech-driven shifts to better serve clients

  • SME
  • Saturday, 05 Feb 2022

WITH the increase in digitally savvy consumers, retailers and brands will have to stay on top of trends to ensure that they continue to capture a market that is evolving due to the impact of the pandemic.

Notably, events of the past two years have pushed more people to shop and carry out transactions online and raised the number of connected consumers.

According to Euromonitor International’s estimates, about 60% of the global population will be connected to the Internet in 2022, which equates to 4.7 billion Internet users.

As such, businesses need to be digitally-driven to survive and to continue thriving.

“An impressive 89% of industry professionals that we surveyed in November about their digital initiatives expect that consumers will judge them more on their digital prowess post-crisis. That means it’s now imperative for companies to stay on top of digital trends,” says the market research firm in a recent webinar.

It notes that there are five tech-driven trends that will redefine commerce this year, namely, predictive personalisation, ultra-fast delivery, green e-commerce, self-collect perks as well as the potential in metaverse shopping.

One of the things that the pandemic has done was to upend customer loyalty.

Given that there are more options online, or perhaps their usual retailers may not be available online, consumers may have become less loyal during the pandemic as they try to obtain what they need from whichever retailer that was more convenient or which offered more value.

By offering greater personalisation that will cater to their needs, retailers will be able to better draw back customers.

Euromonitor urges companies to shift from reactive to predictive customer strategies to tackle this. And to do this, retailers will need to leverage artificial intelligence to effectively comb through mounds of data to offer customers greater personalisation and empower predictive strategies.

This is also in-line with its findings which highlight that the notion of reward for consumers has evolved from one that is centred on just free products to memorable experiences.

“Rewards have became less tangible as they are now tied to moments that the company creates along the customer journey. Almost 40% of digital consumers globally prefer those less tangible loyalty features, which might include a company that helps them solve a problem or just makes that shopping experience easier.

“Knowing that customers are becoming increasingly valuable for companies has prompted retailers to leverage the growing amount of data to create outstanding customer oriented experiences.

“Companies should pursue new business models that help to create stronger relationships with end consumers. These are important retention tools and also a vital source for data gathering efforts,” it says.

It also notes that consumers are increasingly demanding shorter delivery times thanks to the rise of the on-demand culture.

Euromonitor opines that legacy retailers will increasingly look to build out their own proprietary ultra-fast delivery infrastructure to meet this need.

Given that brick and mortar businesses already have a network of stores, which can double up as warehouses or distribution centres that are located closer to end consumers, they would be able to leverage a new wave of ultra-fast delivery players to support deliveries that can be completed in a matter of minutes.

Nonetheless, retailers should also note the environmental impact of surging e-commerce as there is also rising sustainability concerns among consumers. This means looking into providing green packaging solutions or even offering self-collect or click-and-collect as an option to reduce their emissions.

Euromonitor notes that click-and-collect options are growing in popularity among consumers. This is mainly driven in large part by concerns about supply chain gridlock and labour shortage.

To reduce costs, or to counter the lack of available delivery service providers, retailers may actively incentivise customers to self-collect their online purchases in store.

“The development of trends show that staying relevant has never been harder given the rapid pace of innovation driven in part by tech advances. Almost 80% of industry professionals surveyed in November said Covid has accelerated their digital transformation by one to two years.

“In terms of top tech initiatives, industry professionals are focused on the development of omnichannel presence and the expansion of the mobile presence.

“Now, more than ever before, it is important that companies understand tech driven shifts in order to better serve the widening pool of digital consumers,” it says.

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