The Future of Shopping - Insights From Stephen Roe
Expert Panel

The Future of Shopping – Insights From Stephen Roe

Sep 17, 2021

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 Stephen Roe, Founder & Head of Digital Strategy, Grow Atom.

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

Not that long ago, customer reviews were considered gold for customer purchasing behavior. That hasn’t changed—but customer trust has.

Today’s consumer is still reliant on reviews, but they don’t trust what they find on owned properties. More and more consumers believe (accurately or not) that reviews are filtered, influenced, or even fake. There’s a special opportunity for brands who can leverage third-party review authority or dare to post truly honest reviews on their site.

When consumers can only access a sea of perfect five-star reviews, they immediately distrust the source. Amazon’s biggest differentiator years ago was provided by honest reviews. But most of today’s online brands have moved in the opposite direction.

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

The three biggest trends shaping consumer shopping behavior are:

Teach to sell. Today’s successful stores are borrowing startup marketing strategies—specifically SEO and content. By teaching prospects interested in learning, stores can establish themselves as authorities, which then extends to products.

Generous return policies. With the explosion of eCommerce, good return and exchange policies have become the new norm. We’ve seen a number of online retailers improve their policies in the wake of the pandemic.

Intense price competition. Ultra-discount stores like Shein and AliExpress are setting new standards for pricing. Fewer and fewer stores can compete on price, which makes differentiation all the more important.

What’s the future of shopping?

The future of shopping, certainly digitally, is VR “try-before-you-buy” software. The biggest weakness of eCommerce has always been the fact that a customer can’t hold a product first. That’s why eCommerce has such high return rates compared with traditional retail.

But the pandemic has forced the hand of most consumers. We had to buy through eCommerce and hope for the best. VR applications, like trying on jewelry or glasses before buying, have bridged the gap between consumer needs and eCommerce limitations. Leaders across different verticals already use them, and they’re wildly popular with customers. Expect this trend to keep growing—and for the early adopters to reap the biggest rewards.

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

Three actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future include:

Look for profitable differentiators. As price competition increases, the company that can set itself apart without sacrificing margins will win. As I mentioned earlier, authority through content is a relatively simple way to achieve this.

Build a resilient supply chain. The pandemic has taught us the importance of flexible supply chains. Companies should apply lessons from COVID-19 now if they want to weather the next storm.

Become a tech early adopter. VR try-on apps are just the beginning. The biggest rewards will go to the 1% of companies that adopt new technologies today—before everyone else does.

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