The last several years have seen a seismic shift in how consumers shop. From the rise of e-commerce behemoths like Amazon to the further proliferation of smartphones, the retail landscape has changed dramatically. Along with those fundamental changes, consumers are changing, too. Not only their expectations around pricing and item availability but how they want their in-store experience to be is completely different now than it was a decade ago. Here are 4 major ways retail is changing.
1. Entrepreneurship is now for everybody
Thanks to public online marketplaces like Etsy, eBay, and Shopify, starting an e-commerce company is only a few clicks away if you’re willing to put in the work. Etsy offers artists an opportunity to showcase and sell their hand-crafted wares, eBay lets online sellers wheel and deal auction style or via dedicated eBay-based marketplaces, and Shopify gives sellers access to sales channels online, over social media and even in person. According to Glossy, the top 5 Shopify stores each generate more than $150 million in annual revenue, even though those companies didn’t exist just five years ago.
2. Goodbye Omnichannel, Hello Multi-Channel
Omnichannel was a retail revolution just a few years ago that blended a brand’s online presence with its stores. But since then, even more, platforms and ways to shop have sprung up, and companies are targeting their customers from destination to destination. From social media, online marketplaces, mobile, pop-up shops and more, consumers have more options than ever, and stores today must learn their customers’ platform of choice and be sure their products are available for sale on them.
3. Experience is everything
Brick-and-mortar stores have turned what was once a liability into a strength, leveraging their physical presence to draw in customers with unique in-store experiences and specially tailored services, thrusting their brand stories to the forefront. A big part of that transformation involves making the customer feel something when they walk through the door that they can’t experience shopping online. Surprising and delighting their customers’ senses have become a key weapon in brick-and-mortar’s arsenal, and the most successful brands are focusing on creating unique experiences for every customer who enters the store.
4. Brands aren’t building their own technology anymore
Companies used to rely on expensive IT infrastructure built in-house to give their brands an online presence, but now, enough companies have already done the legwork and offer it up to retail entities that it’s easier than ever to piggy-back on existing technology. Brands are instead shifting those resources formerly spent on technology to marketing efforts, story building, and finding and creating products that make them stand out.