8 trends redefining how we shop:
Online = offline
The difference between online and offline is disapearing, turning “ecommerce” into simply “commerce”. The online players are opening physical stores, and the physical stores are pushing shoppers into more and more digital interactions. In the future, commerce seamlessly integrates the online and offline worlds into a unique, consistent and homogeneous experience.
Just like we are measuring almost everything in the digital world, we start to have the tools to analyze what shoppers are doing in the physical world. Understanding these data points will be the key of tomorrow’s retail, and the future is much much more tracking (what else could it be…).
Commerce is getting integrated into content a little bit more everyday. Social networks are launching buy buttons right into their news feeds, and now TV shows, magazines and movies are directly coming with companion stores.
Vertically integrated retail
How to fight Amazon? By creating vertical integration, where one controls everything from production to distribution to retail. Works with high margin, high volume items, and some very interesting brands are emerging (Dollar Shaving Club, Warby Parker, etc). Ironically the destiny of most of these brands is probably to be bought by… Amazon, just as it happened with diapers.com.
New entry points
Perhaps one of this talk’s most important point. We started entering the web almost exclusively via search engines (1990 - 2005). Then came social networks, which became a second way to start journeys on the web. We are entering the third phase, that of the personal assistant. A lot of shopping will happen with people just asking Siri/Google Now/Cortana/Messenger M “I need some shoes”. Being the one shoe pair recommended by these services is the new fight that brands will have to undertake, after having to exist in Google (SEO) and on social media (SMO).
A global trend impacting every part of society, artificial intelligence is also having an impact in retail, on things like distribution (delivery drones), marketing (automated pricing, predictive shopping) and sales (automated sales assistants, customer support).
Transparency on price, values and performance is forced down the throat of retailers by the most advanced users who have systems like ShopGenius and AvoidPlugin at their disposal.
Tracking, automation, digitization, all these things are making retail less human. Some brands are fighting back, and one can see how a human touch remains and will probably be more and more of a distinctive, positive factor in the future.