The Future of Shopping – Insights From Katie-Jay Simmons

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 Katie-Jay Simmons, E-commerce Specialist, Fit Small Business.

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

The biggest shift in consumer behavior in the past 5 years was the rise of ecommerce. Especially with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders, shoppers are now going online to make their purchases rather than into brick-and-mortar stores. Heavy-hitters like Amazon are reaping the biggest increase from these changes, which nurtures universal customer expectations for maximal convenience services, like speedy home delivery and no-questions-asked returns.

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

We’re seeing major changes in what customers are shopping for in addition to how they shop. Millennials and Zoomers are more interested in purchasing experiences than material goods—which is a big contrast to the spending habits of older generations.

Another trend on the horizon is that brand loyalty is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Shoppers are more and more inclined to switch brands—and even actively seek new brands to incorporate into their routine.

Consumers are also seeking curated, customized offerings; shoppers are more willing than ever to hand out personal information online, as long as it yields a better experience for them. This has taken the form of consent to receive targeted ads online as well as a new interest in personal shopping services.

What's the future of shopping?

The future of shopping is a cohesive, omnichannel experience that prioritizes convenience and technology to meet evolving consumer needs. I expect we’ll be seeing more advancements in augmented reality for retail—shoppers flock to merchants who enable them to “try-on” an item of clothing before ordering, or preview what a product will truly look like in their home.

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

Sellers need to keep up with popular payment methods and equip their systems to support the expanding lineup of choices that modern consumers have. Contactless card payments and digital wallets are a good start, but the ability for customers to pay online and pick up in-store is an even bigger sales driver.

Successful organizations will also need to move away from traditional advertising. Consumers are becoming numb to the onslaught of ads they receive on a daily basis—and no level of sleek design or edgy copy will be able to cut through that. Modern shoppers rely on ratings & reviews, social media accounts, and word of mouth to know when to trust a brand with their purchase. So the way to reach them is to create an experience worth sharing.

Lastly, focus on the customer by getting personal with your shoppers. As loyalty becomes harder and harder to come by, you’ll need to dedicate more resources to retention and put less into acquisition. Use data from consumers’ shopping history and recent purchases to send out personalized gifts, make curated recommendations, and create incentivizing loyalty programs.