Retailers of all sizes are reaping the rewards of global ecommerce, both domestic and cross border. With this upside though come growing complexity and fulfillment challenges as consumer expectations rise.
As you do the postmortem on your 2016 holiday season and roadmap your 2017 plans, here are a few retail trends to mull over while celebrating the New Year.
Store/online experience connection grows stronger
Unified commerce will be the expectation from consumers and what retailers need to deliver. Consumers are almost always using a blend of both the physical in-store and digital experiences. When shoppers are browsing, comparing products, looking for great deals, the buying location is just one step in the journey.
Over the last year we have seen more of an intermingled experience for shoppers: Browsing in store and ultimately buying online or browsing online and purchasing in store after touching and feeling an item. Increasingly customers are ordering online and picking up in store or returning there. Retailers that get the interplay between physical and digital experiences right will continue to be the winners in 2017 and beyond.
What constitutes a holiday season has actually expanded
We see a definite “stretching” of the deals and sales this year. The few days leading up to Thanksgiving had more deals and as a result sales were up over 25% year-over-year for many of our retailer clients.
We even saw that same phenomenon happening post-Cyber Weekend as well. Two of our cross-border retailers had viral sales in the last week before the holiday due to new collections and incentives.
New technology, services make ecommerce process better
Innovative technologies and solutions can help retailers optimize their customer experience, improve how they interact with their brand, and delight them so they want to come back. Beyond driving actual purchases, retailers can deploy in-store technology to set the customer experience apart. For example, outdoor product company The North Face uses virtual reality in its Chicago, New York and San Francisco stores, where shoppers can tour Yellowstone National Park or the Moab desert in Utah.
API technology enables ecommerce platforms to deliver a simple, seamless and secure integrated shopping process that consumers expect without expending a lot of resources. In 2017 expect to see more of an impact from API technology in commerce.
Consumers are more open to shopping across borders
According to the recent Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Study, 66% of global consumers have shopped cross border in the last year. In some countries – Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada to name a few – consumers are even more comfortable searching outside the country for unique and authentic items.
Even among U.S. consumers – who have access to a broad selection of brands and retailers at home – nearly half are shopping cross border.
It’s been a great year for ecommerce and we expect 2017 to be even better. Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Gregg Zegras is Senior Vice President of Global Ecommerce for Pitney Bowes