Here’s my latest post on explosive trends that will affect your business over the next few years. Today, I will look at internet-enabled shopping technologies.
Trend: Internet-Enabled Shopping
Because customers’ experiences in stores will become increasingly web-enabled, everything about the way you do business is about to change.
When customers come into a store, more of them will use apps that facilitate the buying process. This is already taking place. When I shop at BJ’s Wholesale Club now, for example, I use the BJ’s app to look at coupons; I choose the ones I want to use and when I arrive at the register, they are automatically applied, and I get discounts.
In the future, we will see greater integration of Internet-based shopping tools that will allow customers to use their phones to watch video product demonstrations that facilitate product selection, enable them to have their products ready for pick-up before they leave stores, or to have those products delivered to their homes.
This trend has already caused major changes – and major disruptions – in the way stores deal with competitors. Many customers enter stores, look at products, and immediately use their phones to go online to look for better prices if they visit other retailers or buy online.
How do retailers deal with this problem? Many have trained their salespeople to be on the lookout for shoppers who are using their phones to shop for better prices elsewhere. Other retailers have advised their salespeople to offer immediate discounts and other incentives to shoppers who have taken out their phones and who appear to be shopping online. Still others have posted signs saying that their stores will match or beat any prices that shoppers have found at other retailers. But have retailers solved this problem? Hardly.
One advantage enjoyed by brick-and-mortar retailers is the fact that if shoppers buy products in their stores, those customers can enjoy immediate delivery. Those customers are able to avoid the inconvenience of having products shipped to their homes and, in some cases, can avoid paying shipping costs.
The message for your business is to be aware that Internet-enabled shopping tools will soon be part of your customers’ shopping experience. It is going to be very, very big – are you preparing for it?