Now that 2013 is a distant memory, what’s in store for retailers in 2014? Here are a few predictions based on consumer behaviors, technology trends, security breaches, and holiday mishaps experienced in 2013.
More Consistency Across Channels
Consumers shop at physical stores and online. They increasingly use multiple channels to communicate with their favorite brands including email, social media, web chats, text messaging, phones, and video chats. In the past, these channels may have been handled by different departments or even different third party providers. As a result, the customer experience was often spotty. As retailers move forward, they are recognizing the importance of brand continuity across channels. Thus, more retailers will deliver consistent interactions and brand messaging regardless of the customer’s desired channel.
Technologies exist that make it possible for marketers to understand the entire customer journey. Not only can detailed analytics and marketing attribution models ensure that all channels that influence a customer are properly credited for their contributions, marketers can use these insights to personalize offers.
Smartphones are here to stay, and they influence how users shop. Investments in mobile and cloud computing will help marketers know more about where each customer is in their personal customer journeys, where they happen to be right now, and which channels they prefer.
In 2014, expect to see smarter apps that entice users to stores. For example, when a user walks past a coffee shop, a coupon might pop up, enticing that user into the store for a latte. Smartphone apps can also combat the problem of “show rooming” by offering in-store visitors an incentive to buy now rather than try to get a better deal online.
Last year’s robust online holiday season coupled with extreme weather caused extensive shipping delays. Many packages failed to arrive in time for Christmas, disappointing gift givers and recipients alike. Expect shipping companies to be better prepared for both bad weather and this year’s holiday rush.
At the same time, more retailers are being forced to offer free or low-cost shipping in order to compete with Amazon Prime which offers free two-day shipping to its members.
The Target data breach was another holiday mishap that is now serving as a huge wakeup call to retailers, the financial industry, and consumers alike. Some banks have responded by issuing new credit and debit cards to affected cardholders. However, that step alone does nothing to prevent the new cards from being compromised in the future. Merchants may be more willing to escalate their investments in stronger security.
Business software providers offers a wide range of business process improvement tools that cater to several industries including retail. For example, it offers everything from accounts payable, accounts receivable, and invoicing tools to online and outlet store solutions. Many retailers concerned about protecting the integrity of sensitive company, employee, and customer data can benefit from SAP data encryption, data archiving, data masking, and data destruction.