Since the beginning of 2020, dramatic changes in the retail industry have resulted in ecommerce retail sales increasing by 29.1% in Central and Eastern Europe and 26.3% in Western European countries.
From March 2020 to April 2020 BigCommerce merchants saw website traffic increase by 62.9%.
However, eMarketer predicted that in the UK, brick-and-mortar retail will decrease in 2021 but still account for 62.5% of the retail landscape. Along these same lines, a recent survey by BigCommerce and PayPal found that over 40% of UK shoppers still prefer in-person shopping.
So how will all this change impact the future of commerce?
Going forward, retail businesses will need to adapt their strategy to take a hybrid approach that focuses on the omnichannel customer journey. Meaning, you must meet customers where they are and create seamless experiences across every touchpoint from marketing and commerce to fulfilment and returns.
3 Trends Most Likely to Impact Fashion Retailers
The lines between offline and online retail experiences are blurring, creating exciting new opportunities for fashion businesses. Here are some of the latest omnichannel trends we predict will be even more important for retailers as we head into 2022.
1.Physical stores will continue to prioritise fulfilment.
While click-and-collect, or buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS), was already fairly popular in the UK — with 64% of retailers offering it according to one recent survey — in the US and other European countries, it lagged behind. Of course, once the pandemic hit, it skyrocketed in popularity.
In fact, in our 2021 Consumer Spending Trends report, multiple respondents commented that they “liked click-and-collect because it allowed them to counteract shipping fees.” Plus, research shows that the immediacy of in-store shopping is one of the top three reasons customers choose to shop in-store.
So we don’t foresee click-and-collect slowing down any time soon. In fact, we’re seeing our merchants use it in creative ways to encourage shoppers to visit in-store.
For example, BigCommerce merchant Lammes Candies recently shared an exclusive offer for chocolate-covered strawberries where customers could order from the pre-sale online and schedule pick up in-store. This is a great way to use your website to drive online traffic in-store for exclusive deals since they weren’t offering to ship.
Another thing we are seeing is same-day delivery. While BigCommerce customer Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams offers fulfilment options for customers, such as ordering online from their app for in-store pick-up, they also offer same-day local delivery via a third-party for customers who live within 8 kilometres of one of their retail locations.
In the future, we expect that some retailers may even start hiring local staff specifically to fulfil these orders so that they can fully own the end-to-end experience.
2. Contactless is making contact.
As of 2020, more than 6 billion people worldwide have a smartphone. And with that, we are seeing a rise in shoppers relying on their smartphones for contactless payment options, such as digital wallets, both online and in-store.
In-store digital shopping experiences are also gaining traction. Although this concept isn’t new to many regions. For example, in China in 2015, Alibaba opened its first Hema supermarket where customers download an app and scan QR codes to learn about each product as they’re shopping.
While that’s taking contactless to the extreme, something as simple as removing the need to speak to a salesperson to find a product can enhance the in-store shopping experience.
Shoppers now want the ability to pull out their phone, open an app and search for the exact location of the product they’re looking for. They also want to know how many of those items are in stock. And if you could serve up a coupon or promotion too, that would be great.
3. Reality no longer exists only in the physical world.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) never really took off how we all envisioned they would back in the late 80s and early 90s. Now, however, it’s finally gaining traction because it can help shoppers make better, more informed product decisions — online and in-store.
BigCommerce merchant Burrow has pioneered. They’ve created an AR app that allows shoppers to customise and place true-to-scale 3D models of Burrow sofas and chairs in their own homes.
Even a simple virtual reality solution like what our merchant Philip Morris & Son has done. Their virtual reality store allows online shoppers to browse the store on the computer so that it feels like you're in person.
And of course, another industry we see expanding the use of AR/VR is fashion. Retailers can leverage AR on their ecommerce stores to help customers see how clothes will look on their bodies — which is not only a great solution for differentiating the ecommerce experience, but it can also help reduce the number of returns for online sales.
AR/VR can also be used in person. One area where we’re seeing a lot of interest in this technology is beauty products. While in the store, customers can see how different hair colours or makeup will look on them before they buy.
Key takeaways and Predictions
- Fulfilment will be the main function of physical stores, while online will function as product discovery.
- Mobile smartphones will continue to accelerate the popularity of contactless shopping in new ways, and retailers will need to adapt their stores and technology to meet these expectations.
- Augmented reality and virtual reality will grow in adoption for both retailers and consumers because they can help shoppers make more informed decisions.
Long-term success now depends on retailers’ ability to leverage these trends to create a seamless hybrid shopping experience across all touchpoints. To learn more about how BigCommerce can help merchants achieve holistic omnichannel commerce success, visit the website.