You’ve heard how important e-commerce is for retailers—and maybe you’ve even upped your game in your store recently.
But to keep up with consumer desires and be successful in 2022, you’ll have to embrace technology and merge your digital and in-store channels for an omnichannel experience.
Tech company STORIS recently released in 2022 trend report where they surveyed some of their own home furnishings retailers e-commerce, and here are 10 technology trends they say retailers need to know to be successful in the new year.
Retail, Now! As we’ve seen in recent years, everyone wants everything as soon as they can get it—which is conditioning customers to expect stores to have everything they want when they want it. That’s one reason why e-commerce will continue to gain importance in 2022.
A Retail Insider study found that the social commerce market is poised to grow by +$2 billion during 2020-2024— and STORIS found that 38% of its surveyed retailers are primarily advertising via traditional print & TV media.
“While it’s important to keep effective mediums in the mix, social media at 24% and on-demand streaming at 2% have untapped potential,” the report says. “Brainstorming for your next, on-demand market opportunity can help retailers meet customers through new channels. In the past year, on-demand streaming shows have gone from simple product placement to fully integrated sponsored content with retail opportunities. What organic brand alignments could you form on entertaining, social channels?
Show ‘Em What You Got. Content is still king. But there are so many different types of content that brands need to create today—from social media to blogs to websites. It’s easy to get lost in the noise.
And as 3D product modeling and digital renderings—which are often indistinguishable from staged photography—become more accessible product imagery will continue to be important to capture the shopper’s interest.
STORIS suggests creating shoppable, lifestyle content on Pinterest that takes the customer directly to the product’s page, shortening the path-to-purchase, because AdWeek found, “the number of Pinners engaging with shopping rose 80% year-over-year in the U.S. in 2020, with 85 million actively engaging with home content on the platform every month.”
Consumer Confidence For The Win. As you expand into the digital space, also think about the point of sale outside of a physical checkout counter. Thirty-three percent of STORIS retailers are prioritizing Mobile POS as 2022’s top technology initiative and that’s partly because mobilizing their sales force leads to consumer confidence.
“When your sales team has access to all customer history and up-to-the-minute product knowledge, the value they bring to the relationship is tremendous,” the report says. “Further, with mobile, your RSAs can access this information in-store, from home, or on the go to always be ready to support your customers.
Upgrade Everything. All sales are based on relationships, and because they’re so important, retailers need to find messaging that resonates. Promoting upgrades to furnishings can also keep your customers engaging with your brand and increase their lifetime value, while technology can help you track your customers’ purchases.
Technology can also be used to record the details—like if the customer is going to buy a house soon, or recently did—and set timed reminders to personalize engagement and touch base on upcoming projects.
Constantly Connected. In today’s day of delayed fulfillment, it’s important to stay in touch regarding follow-up opportunities and post-sales communications. More touch-points can be time-consuming, which is why automated communications can ensure that customers are in the know while reducing the manual efforts of your team.
When you collect critical data points on your customers, personalized automation becomes possible. So by setting critical trigger points along the buying journey, you can automatically send text or email messages to your customers, such as when their order is ready to schedule or to touch base on an open order. Texts reminding customers that they have items still in their cart have a 45% conversion rate.
Data Will Change. Have you heard about the Cookiepocolypse coming in 2023? It refers to Google phasing out the use of third-party cookies on Chrome, the leading internet browser in the world. That means how you learn about and advertise to your customers will change.
“While data is still accessible, consider conducting a customer analysis with current third-party analytics to inform a near-term strategy,” the report suggests. “Long-term, strengthen your collection of first-party consumer data. Utilize your relationship management tools to collect data about your customer from multiple sources such as conversations, emails, surveys, and your own website. A silver lining is first-party data is your data. Strengthening 1P data usage can become a key competitive differentiator.”
Google Will Change. Thirty-four percent of STORIS’s surveyed retailers said e-commerce growth was their greatest opportunity in 2022. But you can’t just have a great website; you’ll need to know about Google.
The search engine’s new ranking factors aim to better reflect attributes the customer values in an online experience. Essentially, Google is reviewing technical elements like site usage, speed, security, and accessibility when determining ranking order on its Search Engine Results Pages.
“Optimizing for “Core Web Vitals” can help your website outrank your competitors,” the report says. “Use the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool and Light House Developer’s Tools for real-time scores across these KPIs. These tools provide specific ways to improve your results. Reviewing your performance here is a priority project for 2022 to optimize your e-commerce website.”
Immediate Access. Many customers are choosing from immediately available options. Take-with sales are also increasing. Real-time logistics and inventory control can help you stay on top of your on-hand inventory, monitor the timing of your supply, and plan marketing campaigns to promote products as they come in stock.
Half of those surveyed by STORIS stated that supply chain issues would be their biggest challenge in 2022. STORIS wanted to gauge how many weeks behind their lead times were, and the data shows that as of December 2021, 58% of these retailers had lead times that were more than four months behind.
Here’s the full breakdown:
25% are 4-8 weeks behind in lead times.
17% are 8-16 weeks behind in lead times
36% are 16-24 weeks behind in lead times.
22% are over 24 weeks behind in lead times.
All About Balance. Balancing your retail prices against rising freight costs requires nimble action, and manually re-tagging a showroom floor is time-consuming. Today, with such dynamic cost factors impacting the industry, digital price tags are one of the best ways forward.
“By integrating digital tags into your unified inventory management system, you can adjust your prices more often and match them to your website pricing without extra effort,” the report says. “This also allows you to adjust prices more frequently, such as if they need to be raised to offset your freight costs or if you want to lower them temporarily to be competitive. When combining digital price tags with QR codes, your customer can have a true multi-channel experience. A quick scan provides instant access to peer reviews, additional lifestyle photos, and product details that can support closing sales.”
Into the Future. Having a centralized unified commerce solution that can integrate with other industry solutions to operate is critical, and things like APIs or Application Program Interfaces allow retailers to seamlessly connect retail technologies.
According to Harvard Business Review, “digital innovators use ecosystem thinking to chart strategies for sustainable growth and use APIs as conduits for value exchange within the value network. Companies that want to stay adaptable enough to survive and thrive in the digital economy should embrace this ecosystem way of the API.”
Technology is only going to become more prominent and widespread in 2022, so embrace it, learn what you can, and do whatever you need to do to be successful.
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