By Stuart Gonsal
It’s bizarre to think of a world without the ol’ click and shop now. We effectively go wandering down the High St, looking in all the shop windows, from the comfort of our couches or while we’re on our morning commute.
Ecommerce has progressed incredibly over the past decade, and methods we never dreamt of – live chatting to someone on the other side of the world about the product details of an imminent purchase – are commonplace and expected now.
But the goalposts keep shifting and things that we may have seen as the great hope – say, Facebook stores for prestige brands – have not panned out exactly as expected.
So what does the future hold for online retailers? Where can they go from here and what are the shopping public expecting?
Across a range of interviews and articles, two main elements keep coming up: personalisation and customisation.
In this current online age, it can be easy to feel like a faceless walking password. That’s why personalisation is a way of captivating the customer, making them feel like they are interacting with someone who knows them and their tastes. More than just a ‘You might also like…’ algorithm, personalisation goes across all kinds of consumer communications and interactions.
A perfect example of personalisation is the use of live chat. In this article by The Chat Shop, they discuss the use of live chat not only as an excellent feedback tool (people are more disarmed and open on a live chat as opposed to a back-and-forth email conversation) but as a way of offering customers a truly personalised shopping experience, particularly in the fashion realm, where people can actually video-chat with stylists or use online shopping concierges, then make their purchases. The customer is actually having a one-on-one retail experience.
With online shopping comes the sense that there is nothing unique to be found – we are all browsing the same global village market. Customisation, however, offers customers the chance to stand out a little; to have that item that is specifically, and only, theirs. Nike lets customers design their own sneakers, you can customise your watch bands, use 3D fabric prints – you can be your own one-off.
But don’t forget – the customer is key
This study by Walker includes a really interesting graph predicting what online shoppers will want in 2020. And what ranks highest? The customer experience. More than price or product, it’s how they are treated as customers that will ultimately lead them to transact.