Discussing topics from mobile payments to logistics and delivery, SLI Systems recently invited some of the UK’s leading retailers to share predictions on the top key e-commerce milestones for 2015.
Some of the top names in retail including Simon Young, web development manager at Paul Smith; Mark Hammond, chief operating officer at Pets Pyjamas; David Kohn, multi-channel director at Snow + Rock; and Chris Edge customer success director from SLI Systems, came up with a list of top five forecasts as follows:
1. Beacon technology
Beacon technology was a key topic of discussion. This technology enables retailers to communicate directly with customers whilst they are in-store. Shoppers are sent messages and alerts about offers, product details and information that is relevant to the store in which they are shopping, or they are enticed to shop in a nearby store.
Communications are typically delivered via an app or an ‘opt-in’ Bluetooth notification. This interactive use of technology allows retailers the opportunity to create a more engaging customer experience using intelligent data that is mined from the consumers previous brand interaction. Paul Smith, in particular, believes 2015 will be the year if beacon technology.
In-store Beacon technology is already in use at Paul Smith. Simon Young of the leading fashion retailer indicated it relatively easy to deploy, as the main requirement is to have Wi-Fi and tablets. It drives sales for retailers as it enables them to up-sell and cross-sell based on each consumer’s specific digital shopping behaviour.
2. Adoption of mobile and social payments
Mobile payments took a big leap forward in 2014, with the launch of Apple Pay and other social media payment platforms such as Twitter Buy Twitter’s ‘Buy’ button and Facebook Payments. In 2015 online sales are expected to continue rising as a result of enhanced payment technology as iconic trusted brands such as Apple continue to raise consumer awareness
On-going investment in service improvements from other players such as PayPal, will continue to drive use of mobile checkouts. Young of Paul Smith indicated he is expecting to see rapid migration to zero friction social mobile payments in 2015.
3. Making the online experience more human
David Kohn of Snow + Rock suggested that 2015 is about getting personal with customers. He shared that the brand will provide a more personal level of service using online channels, replicating the in-store customer journey that consumers expect. For example, this will take the form of live chat where dedicated online customer advisors can be tapped throughout the shopping trip.
Social Media is also poised to play a stronger role in humanising online shopping in 2015. For example, Snow + Rock plans to implement a Twitter-friendly solution that will allow customers to have their questions answered by brand representatives via social media in as close to real-time as possible to heighten the personal touch. Consumers will get answers to questions ranging from the colour or size of a product, time of delivery or returns policies – anything that could be answered by a store assistant in the physical store.
Offering more interactive online shopping experience is designed to attribute to more purchases, give the brand more control when responding to consumers, and provide the shopper with a more tailored and engaging experience – driving loyalty and promoting brand confidence.
4. Using intelligent search, segmentation and analytics to drive sales
SLI’s research tells us that e-commerce sales now account for 5.9% of total retail sales, which has risen 18% since 2013. Offering advanced site search and navigation – one that shows the products visitors are most likely to want – can be the difference between an engaged customer who buys and a dissatisfied customer who bounces.
Web sessions that include a search option for users produce the highest sales conversion rates. For example, Chemist Direct, the UK’s leading online pure play healthcare and pharmacy store reported that customers who use its search box, deployed by SLI Systems, have the highest conversion rate generating 43% of the total value of the site with a 175% higher conversion rate than those who navigate.
Paul Smith also integrated SLI technology into its e-commerce platform in 2014. The company has already seen a rapid return on investment.
Young of Paul Smith shared an example following Sir Paul Smith announcing a collaboration with the music legend Led Zeppelin. The Paul Smith team created a story around the product line, detailing when it was coming and what to expect. This created a huge surge in visitors to the company’s site, with visitors searching for the newly-announced Led Zeppelin products. By using SLI’s intelligent search function and optimized content on its site, the Paul Smith team was able to keep customers engaged and help them purchase what they were seeking.
For 2015, Young indicated that effective retailers will leverage search technology and use it to see trends, respond to changes in on-site activity, boost online sales as well as drive customers into brick and mortar stores. He elaborated, “In 2015 we also want to continue looking at ways to show product availability outside of the online channel.” An example of this is when a particular piece of online merchandise is out of stock. Paul Smith wants to use technology to inform customers in which physical store their desired product is available; producing an effective omni-channel strategy.
Using search to segment customers will continue to be at the top of the agenda for retailers in 2015. Pets Pyjamas is the number one lifestyle website for pet smart owners. Segmenting its customer base helps make the online experience for each and every customer as relevant and personal as possible, and produces a holistic and targeted experience based on the needs and interests of their pet.
5. Customer centric fulfilment
Successful retailers understand that to be competitive in today’s economy, it is essential to get goods to customers in as timely a manner as possible. They understand increasingly more customers are opting for personalised delivery options that suit their lifestyle, such as click and collect, 24-hour locker banks, same-day delivery, late night order times or train station car park pick-up station. As a result, these options are becoming increasingly available.
Putting products in front of customers as swiftly as possible will be the key to e-commerce success in 2015. As SLI and its key retailers have explained, the next year is poised to be another great year for the burgeoning e-commerce industry. Retailers that provide an optimised online shopping experience, relevant and timely information, leverage new technology and maximise opportunities from existing technology are the most likely to succeed. Consumers will find the latest shop through buy to delivery process not only meets their expectations, but far exceeds them.
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