Lessons Learned: Four Retail Trends for 2016

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The holiday rush may be over, but retailers shouldn’t rest for too long. The next holiday season will be upon us before you can say “bargain hunter.” Therefore, now is a great time to take stock of your results from the holiday season, evaluate the campaigns that were successful/not successful, and begin forming your next strategy.

To help brands plan effectively, here are four major retail trends from 2015 that are likely to have an even bigger impact in 2016.

Moving the Goalposts in Mobile Commerce

The 2015 holiday shopping season brought a 6 percent increase in desktop online holiday sales while mobile digital commerce increased by 13 percent, according to comScore. By the end of 2016, 4.8 billion individuals globally will use a mobile phone and smartphone subscribers will represent nearly half (46 percent) of the global population, predicts Forrester Research. In the U.S, more than 30 percent of sales will have a mobile cross-channel component, meaning consumers will use mobile at some point during the purchase life cycle.

There’s no mistaking the fact that mobile commerce is now a mainstream retail channel. But simply offering a mobile responsive site is no longer enough; retailers must deliver an experience tailored to mobile behavior if they hope to effectively engage consumers. For instance, are your products displayed in a manner that’s easy for shoppers to review on a small screen, in addition to getting support if they have questions?

24/7 Cross-Channel Support

Speaking of support, consumers demand assistance at their convenience, not when brands find it convenient to serve them. The pressure is on retailers to serve consumers in context in a consistent cross-channel environment. Putting customers on hold for long periods of time and asking them to repeat the reason for their call practically guarantees a lost business opportunity. Click-to-call, proactive chat, and a “call me” button on a website are just some of the ways brands can provide a modern support system. Providing a comprehensive FAQ section for the hours when live representatives are unavailable is another way to close the loop on comprehensive support.

Data-Driven Experiences

Having the tools and staff with the right skill set to uncover actionable insights continues to be a competitive advantage. As we move into 2016, expect to see continued investment and growth in customer intelligence analytics capabilities within retail organizations. Factors such as decreasing cloud storage costs, the proliferation of analytic tools, and the value of data-driven decisions also means retailers have few excuses not to adopt a digital mindset. Now is the time to explore opportunities to get more out of customer data. Streamlining databases or finding more opportunities to personalize interactions with customers should be top priorities. Think of a retail customer experience you’d like to improve and work backwards.

IoT Growth

While the Internet of Things is still in the early stage of development, we saw more cars, thermostats, and household appliances become “connected” to the Internet in 2015 and this trend continues to gain traction in 2016. Sensors and scannable codes on appliances are only the beginning. It’s not a question of whether or not the IoT will occur, but how quickly and how disruptive it will be to the customer experience. The rise of connected devices suggests that there’ll be an influx of data, giving brands potentially more opportunities to understand their customers’ behaviors and preferences. While there isn’t much that retailers can do to leverage the IoT yet, keep an eye on this space.

Few things change on a year-by-year basis but savvy retailers understand the necessity of a long-term view. Additionally, the fundamental basics still hold true: Great customer experiences are built around emotional connections, relevant content, and a frictionless experience. 

David James, Director of Product Marketing, TTEC Technology, contributed to this piece.

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