At the onset of the global pandemic, with its restrictions on movement, retailers’ immediate requirement was a structured e-commerce platform — an early advantage direct-to-consumer brands already had. Per Forbes, ‘Nearly two years later, consumers continue to spend less time in brick-and-mortar shops and more time on their devices: U.S. e-commerce sales in Q3 2021 were up 45.6 per cent compared to Q3 2019.’ Here are a few retail digitisation trends that take the evolving retail landscape into account.
A prominent trend in e-commerce is promotion on social media and social commerce i.e. the convergence of e-commerce and social media. Per Forbes, ‘According to Statista, there were 80 million social buyers in the U.S. in 2020, which equals a 30 per cent increase over 2019… Those 80 million buyers spent approximately $27 billion throughout 2020. This year, retail experts are forecasting social commerce sales to increase by more than 35 per cent, meaning consumers will spend more than $36 billion… Looking further ahead to 2025, social commerce in the United States is set to grow to nearly $80 billion. At that point, it would account for just over 5 per cent of the country’s retail e-commerce sales.’
”2022 is the year that we’ll see the social commerce model—deeply embedded commerce that meets consumers where they are and is non-disruptive to their experience—spread to more platforms and more industries,” Amir Kabbara, Director of Product for Shopify, told Forbes.
At the forefront of shoppable content is live-streaming, where consumers can immediately purchase a featured product on a live-stream video. Shopify, which has collaborated with TikTok to enable retailers to sell live, perceive that this trend will show huge growth over the next year.
”Live Streaming is a quickly growing market, projected to reach nearly $224 billion USD by 2028. From August to October 2021, we’ve seen installs for live-selling apps increase by 40 per cent compared to the previous three months,” Amir Kabbara, Director of Product for Shopify, told Forbes.
Mobile has become the most convenient way to browse the market and purchase just with one hand. Insider Intelligence admits that mobile commerce demonstrates steady growth and is projected to reach 44 per cent of all e-commerce in 2024. Although approximately half of the users prefer browser checkouts, people often browse the deals and research products via mobile devices beforehand. Mobile optimisation of e-commerce sites, therefore, is an important investment. Interestingly, WhatsApps has developed features that make it a seamless experience for shoppers, from chatting with brand representatives, getting recommendations before making a purchase and receiving automatic responses to their queries.
Since the last few years, retailers have comprehended a more sophisticated understanding of the customer buying journey, and how it crosses from online to offline, before a purchase is made. This has underlined the need for truly hybrid retail.
”We are seeing more of the smaller retailers develop ‘hybrid’ retail models, making better use of the opportunity provided by the internet to complement their physical store,” Andrew Goodacre, CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association, told Forbes.
Hybrid retail is increasingly becoming important as footfall continues to fluctuate due to the ongoing Covid restrictions on movement. However, building a hybrid model is not without its demands. For retailers, focusing on how to deliver a seamless, integrated and hassle-free experience to their consumers as they move from the digital world to the physical, and back again, has got to be a top priority this year.
Metaverse and avatars
This year, brands will ramp up metaverse collaborations that emphasise co-creation and digital-first designs will influence physical goods. Per Vogue Business, ‘Some brands have gotten in early. Tommy Hilfiger tapped eight native Roblox designers to create 30 digital fashion items based on the brands own pieces. Forever 21, working with metaverse creation agency Virtual Brand Group, opened a ‘ Shop City ‘ in which Roblox influencers create and manage their own stores, competing against each other. As new merchandise lands in the physical world, the same pieces will become available virtually. Profile pictures, or PFPs, will become membership badges, and brands will dress them or create their own, piggy-backing on existing loyalty communities in the way that Adidas tapped the Bored Ape Yacht Club… ‘
With the pandemic developing new variants and continuing restrictions on movement, e-commerce is no longer an option, it is critical to survival. Per Forbes, ‘E-commerce has seen tremendous growth over the last few years and is expected to account for 23.6 per cent of all retail sales by 2025, compared to 11 per cent in 2019. That trend is now expanding to other digital channels.’ Direct- to- consumer and traditional brands that keep these retail digitisation trends in mind will be positioned to meet the challenges to reach new audiences and do brisk business in the year ahead.
I worked with Condenast India as Digital Editor and launched Vogue India’s portal. Four years later, I turned entrepreneur and launched my luxury portal www.explosivefashion.in. Perhaps it’s my vision and exclusive content that’s placed Explosive Fashion at the forefront of luxury: reporting from fashion weeks, collaborating with luxury brands, presenting royal families’ vision, championing talent, reviewing hotels and restaurants, writing on travel, heritage. My editorial is of a storyteller, the story of the person behind the brand.