Last week, more than 4,000 attendees descended on Chicago for the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo. Scalefast was the title sponsor and one of more than 200 exhibitors. While an additional 200 industry experts contributed to sessions and panels and keynotes, there were four commerce trends that are poised to shape the future of shopping – online and off.
Live Shopping and Social Commerce
Live shopping has come a long way since QVC hit the airwaves in 1986. Today’s live shopping landscape has shifted from TV to social media. According to Forbes social commerce is projected to grow to $1.2 trillion by 2025.
Meagen Johnson, SVP of marketing at Jane said that while the growth trajectory is trending upward, “social commerce is still in its infancy.” Despite that, Jane added social selling to their channels and have reaped the rewards including an average viewership of more than 2 million customers and a GMV increase of 95%.
Johnson noted that Jane went to great lengths to educate their customers on how to complete a purchase via live stream in order to make shoppers comfortable. She also emphasized the importance of developing a strategy that includes social selling on a consistent basis.
“There’s a lot of exciting things happening,” she said. “When you’re consistent, you find what works for your audience.”
She also advised deploying different strategies for different platforms.
“You have to understand the platform you’re selling on and tailor your message to that platform.”
Another dominant commerce trend – that happens to includes social selling – was how to employ omnichannel strategies. In today’s market, successful merchants add and optimize channels to meet their customers’ needs and grow revenue.
Rose Hamilton, CEO of Compass Rose Ventures said that merchants today have to be where there customers are – which is to say, everywhere. Shoppers use multiple channels to research and purchase products. To illustrate her point, she said:
- 56% of people have used a mobile device to research a product at home
- 38% used a mobile device to check inventory on their way to the store
- 98% of Americans switch between devices throughout the day
She noted that purchase frequency is 250% higher on omnichannel compared to single-channel.
“It’s no longer ‘what should I do to drive growth?’,” she said. “Do it all because the customer is everywhere.”
But where should a new DTC or other single-channel merchant start? Data. Accurate, clean customer data.
“Capture accurate data,” Hamilton said. “The money and effort spent on making sure you have good data will be well worth it.”
After gathering data, brands should talk to their customers through qualitative data like conducing one-on-one listening labs and quantitative data like identifying most valuable customers. Learning where customers are and what they want are keys to long-term acquisition which is what provides for stable, predictable growth no matter which channels a brand chooses.
Humanizing Data and Committing to Personalization
“Not only do you have to get personalization right; you can’t afford to get it wrong.”
VP of buyer experience at eBay Bradford Shellhammer summed up the need to focus on a third commerce trend: personalization. And with eBay’s inventory volume (1.6 billion items to be precise), the company is doubling down on curating individual experiences for individual customers.
By collecting zero-party data, like a customer’s preferred product category, favorite sellers and deal-seeking behavior, the giant marketplace is showing customers the items they are most likely to buy (without the customer having to search every time). Love vintage sneakers? eBay captures that data and customizes your feed with new vintage arrivals and related products you may be interested in.
Personalization does require data but focusing on ones and zeros is a dangerous gambit for brands looking to gain customers for life.
“When it comes to our digital environment, we focus too much on the tech,” said keynote speaker, consumer and shopper behavioralist and CX strategist Ken Hughes. “We need to focus on the humans and use digital to develop deep relationships with the customers.”
In a panel discussion, VP of DTC and marketing at Tile, Kathy Ando said, “The future of shopping is relationships; we have to know our customers.”
With so much sustained media buzz around the metaverse, web3 and their implications for marketing and brands, it’s no surprise that it is a hot commerce trend among brands and merchants. Chief metaverse officer at Future Intelligence Group, Cathy Hackl, described the relationship between these seemingly futuristic ideas:
“Web3 centers around how people, spaces and assets are connected to this new iteration of the internet, while the Metaverse centers around how we will experience the future of the internet, which is enabled by many different technologies.”
She said that these next major developments in technology and adoption “opens up massive opportunities” for brands including:
- New jobs and places to recruit talent
- New revenue streams and commerce models
The big winners, she said, will be those that seamlessly connect the physical and virtual worlds. For example, a customer might purchase a physical product but that product includes an electronic key that unlocks a virtual experience.
“Think like your kids,” she said. “The virtual experience they have [on Roblox, Minecraft and other platforms] are real. They have real friends there and real experiences.”
The state of commerce has never been more complex. The pace of change has never been more furious. The possibilities have never been more exciting. And while trends come and go, there was one constant, evergreen message: put the customer first. When brands know and serve and have relationships with their customers, success is bound to follow.
If your brand is ready to take the next step and grow its eCommerce channel, talk to an expert at Scalefast.