Tryzens predicts key innovations that retailers must invest in to drive customer engagement and sales in 2019
Having undergone a year of almost unprecedented pressure in 2018, retailers should be bracing themselves to face similar challenges in 2019. Declining consumer spending and confidence, business uncertainty, and increasing costs associated with rising minimum wage levels and commodity prices are creating a challenging environment for any retailer.
However, according to Andy Burton, CEO at digital commerce consultancy Tryzens, 2019 will also see an increase in the deployment of innovative technology that will enable retailers to engage more successfully with their customers, giving them alternative ways to find the products they want and build stronger brand loyalty.
Burton commented: “We all know that the retail sector is facing systemic pressures, and these aren’t going to go away in 2019. But retailers should be increasingly deploying innovations that can bring them closer to their customers, enable those customers to shop in the way that they want, maximise sales and generate higher revenues. We are seeing more and more retailers using artificial intelligence to personalise customer offerings based on their shopping history, adapting a mobile first approach to improve conversions and social media-based shopping to convert social engagement into sales. Our Insights and Strategy Team has outlined the key trends they believe will change the retail market in 2019 and help fend off the major challenges that the sector faces.”
1. Voice-based shopping
Retailers are increasingly targeting voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home as a novel way of engaging with their customers. Argos was one of the first UK retailers to offer voice search shopping services, and there is no doubt that in 2019 more retailers will follow in its footsteps. However, this trend will rely on retailers converting consumers from their preferred shopping channels to using voice shopping which, particularly in the early stages, may feel slightly unnatural.
2. Image-based shopping
Perhaps more exciting for retailers is the rise of image-based shopping. A number of retailers, including ASOS, Forever 21 and Alibaba, are introducing the capability for consumers to take a picture of an item they want to generate search results for similar products on a retailer’s platform. Forever 21 has seen a 20% increase in average conversion rates across the two product categories in which it trialed the technology, demonstrating the value that this innovation could bring to retailers in 2019. In addition, as the technology develops search results will become more and more accurate, further increasing consumer trust and retention rates.
3. Innovative financing
To help maximise sales, retailers are turning to more innovative financing methods to help consumers purchase products. ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ payment options are increasingly common, offering consumers the opportunity to purchase a product and then pay for it in regular installments over a number of weeks or months. This enables retailers to engage with consumers who may not have access to a credit card or much liquidity, but still be paid for products in full, meaning faster and higher order values.
4. Mobile platforms
The key tool for engagement in 2019 will, of course, be mobile platforms. While many retailers have developed apps, they give much less attention to the mobile version of their websites. On mobile, speed is everything. With 53% of mobile site visits abandoned for pages taking longer than 3 seconds to load, eCommerce retailers must ensure that their mobile presence is optimised for speed, convenience and conversion. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are playing a critical role in this, reducing the average loading time to less than half a second. Responsive, intuitive, and mobile first design is critical for successful eCommerce retail, and this trend is set to sharpen over the next few years as Forrester predicts that by 2022 smartphones will account for $175.4 billion.
5. Social selling
The final retail trend for 2019 identified by the Tryzens’ Insight and Strategy Team is social selling. Finding products and shopping from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram will become more popular in 2019, supported by the kind of innovations that Instagram launched in March 2018, a feature which allows brands to tag up to 5 products in a post, displaying product information like price and purchase links. Recent research from PwC has underlined this trend, revealing that social networks are the number one choice of online media that survey respondents used to find inspiration for their purchases.
Burton concluded: “There are a wide range of technologies and innovations that, in 2019, may well offer retailers the chance to buck the trend of a broadly declining sector. Retailers need to approach consumers through the channels they use, and make themselves as accessible as possible, whether that’s through voice or image search, social media or mobile platforms. They must adopt the latest technologies that put the customer first to maximise their sales and meet the challenges that 2019 may bring.”