We lose track of the incremental changes in our culture that digital has wrought. But shopping has really changed.
The core components of shopping — Search and discovery, promotions, prices, inventory, instore browsing, checkout, pickup and delivery, store locations and maps –have each shifted with the rise of Internet access, Wifi, big data and cloud-based payments.
Sometimes, it is hard to keep things in perspective. Amazon and online shopping have certainly had a huge impact on many categories. Most store segments absolutely require online and offline omnichannel strategies.
But did the arrival of “showrooming” – which allow consumers to compare prices on items in store — deeply change shopping habits for most people, most of the time? Will wireless Beacons that help to recognize shoppers and target offers to them change shopping habits for most people, most of the time? Showrooming and beacons are having impacts on shopping, for certain, but fall short of being game changers.
Looking ahead several years, Analyst Natalie Berg at Planet Retail, a UK-based consultancy, has put together her “Future of Retail — 10 Trends of Tomorrow” report. I like the list and report; agree with a lot of it; and wish I had done my own.
Berg notes that shopping trends will mandate fewer locations; more differentiation; specialty stores within big box stores; and – it cannot be underemphasized — WiFi access to not only enable showrooming, but also permit instore mapping, offer targeting, and eventually, click-free checkouts. She goes on to predict the death of card-based loyalty points programs. These efforts will need to fold into new types of mobile- based personalization, including card linked offers and other features – which, to me, are pretty much the same thing but with new skins and capabilities.
She also predicts the death of automatic free shipping, which has made strides towards scaleability, but remains unsustainable. In the future, free shipping should only be applied to incent upsells or promotions.