For retailers, 2014 means better mobile options, customer data
If the 2013 holiday shopping season has proved anything, it is the enduring power of the online shopping experience. Merchants that utilized ecommerce software capable of providing an easily browsed, simple to shop website were able to benefit from the considerable number of customers who wanted the convenience of Internet-based shopping.
Mobile a powerful online channel…
In light of 2013's shopping trends, Ed Braswell, CEO and president of edo, recently shared with Multichannel Merchant a few predictions about the role of retail in 2014. Unsurprisingly, he expects that 2014 "will be the year of mobile commerce." He noted that by 2017, 25 percent of Internet-based sales will originate from smartphones or tablets, and that 58 percent of adults already browse items on their mobile device before completing a transaction.
…but less influential for brick-and-mortar payments
However, he added that mobile wallets are unlikely to see widespread adoption in the next year. Although companies like Google and Apple are lobbying consumers to utilize the technology, these efforts have yet to create substantial mobile wallet use. Because there is no unified method for submitting smartphone-based payments, he suggested that technology compatible with current devices may be obsolete in the near future, which decreases the chance that merchants will invest in the necessary equipment anytime soon.
Data collection a critical part of marketing
While mobile wallet adoption may be a few years off, better data collection efforts will be critical to providing the personalization needed to target local shoppers. Braswell highlighted that some businesses offer discounts and other promotions that do not apply to many recipients, which leads to poor ROI. To avoid this, merchants should include meticulous retail business intelligence software that can collect data from all levels of the organization and sales. Understanding consumer trends and being able to apply appropriate strategies in a more focused manner will help even small businesses perform better, Braswell suggested.
As the new year swings around, merchants should invest in ever-more robust retail software options to accommodate the changes happening to the industry. Those businesses that can most effectively utilize their customer data, and that are running point of sale systems that can easily interact with smartphones and tablets, will be well-positioned to provide the personalization and shopping options that consumers desire.