The Future of Shopping – Insights From Cassandra Highbridge

Raydiant’s new series, the Future of Shopping, interviews experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. 

The following is an interview we recently had with Cassandra Highbridge, CRM Engagement Marketing Specialist, Unstack.

How has consumer shopping behavior evolved over the past 5 years?

Consumer shopping behavior has really shifted in the last 5 years, and this happened even more rapidly because of COVID-19. Mckinsey and Company have done some great research on this, basically saying that consumers’ intent to buy online is going to continue to increase even after the COVID-19 crisis. And those categories where expected growth in online shoppers will exceed 35 percent, will be areas like essentials such as over-the-counter medicine, groceries, household supplies, and personal-care products. 

What are the top 3 trends shaping the ways consumers shop?

Try before you buy – Companies are using technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). For example, Allbirds launched a shopping app that allows consumers to try on different staples and silhouettes of their shoes before they buy. Companies like this because it reduces returns and consumers enjoy it because they can try out products without physically going to a store.

Sustainability – Consumers want to buy from companies that care about the environment. In fact, 60% of internet users say they’ll pay more for products that are eco-friendly. We’ve seen a shift in companies being more open with consumers about the impact their products have on their environment and how they work to combat climate change. 

Creating a more personalized experience – Consumers want a more personalized experience. The Boston Consulting Group states “…when the shopping experience was highly personalized, customers indicated that they were 110% more likely to add additional items to their baskets and 40% more likely to spend more than they had planned.” Ecommerce businesses that incorporate personalization into their website, product recommendations, and marketing make consumers feel like they are understood which creates a better experience and also causes a lift in revenue. 

What's the future of shopping?  

The future of shopping is moving towards an in-app shopping experience on social media. This has already started with Instagram Shopping which allows people to shop a brand’s photos and videos. Now we also see that TikTok is planning to roll out TikTok Shopping which is a partnership with Shopify. Shopify merchants will be able to have a shopping tab on their TikTok profile in order to basically have a mini-storefront. 

What are the 3 actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future?

Step 1, it’s important to build a great customer experience. This means really figuring out your audience and creating a website, checkout process, and marketing material that appeals to them. Number 2, you have to remain educated on how the eCommerce landscape is changing. You can listen to eCommerce podcasts, download guides from thought-leaders or watch videos but it’s important to be aware and consider how these changes could affect your business. The last step is don’t be afraid to experiment or change. If a new social media platform comes out and you think it could work – try it out! By experimenting, you’re able to question your assumptions and might find something that really resonates with your shoppers.