The Future of Shopping – Insights From Ian Sells

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 Ian Sells, CEO and Founder at RebateKey

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

Having a digital store, i.e. a website or a social media account, preferably both, is now a necessity. This is whether you have a physical store or a purely online one.  So while people will still go to your physical store (if you have one), customers will appreciate if you give them  a digital option.

The whole world is now a big marketplace. Whereas people in the past are limited by physical and geographic barriers, now, everyone can shop from anywhere. This is also owed to more and more platforms offering to sell and ship across the world. Globalization encourages people to be more trusting and open to explore.

Shopping is shaped by customer reviews and feedback. While business reputation has been important ever since, it hasn’t become this accessible to the watching world as it is now. Now more than ever, people would check sites like BBB and Trustpilot before even doing their purchase. More so, they would look for YouTube videos of reviews or how-tos before completing their purchases.

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

People are looking for trials and subscriptions. The majority of brands, except those who are already very established (think Nike) need to catch people’s attention and make them try their product or service. Customers prefer brands who offer trials and subscriptions since they are now “conscious buyers” and prefer to compare between brands before making a major purchase.

Social media determines the current trends. Current social media trends control shopping behaviors. Whether for the good or bad, attention in social media channels can boost or kill your brand.

Company values are important. Shoppers look beyond the brand and try to see if they have worthy advocacies and values.

What's the future of shopping?

Shopping will continue to thrive online. There will be greater innovations that will allow shopping to be a great experience.

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

Create your own website. This is the first step. If you don’t have a website, you don’t have a place to direct your customers to. 

Build brand awareness. For people to notice you, you have to make your presence felt. There are a lot of different ways to do this. Focus on a few for now and work your way up. 

Reputation management is very important. Make sure that you have your eyes on this from the get-go. It’s a lot easier to maintain a good reputation than to try to erase even just one poor comment/review.