3 Ways Tech Will Disrupt Retail in 2015

You may already have noticed from your daily retail e-letters and news that “ tech disruption” is going to be a major theme in retail this year. Brands that embrace this as the new reality will do well in 2015. This year is also all about the consumer, or “The Internet of Me”. It’s about getting creative with tech to build a reality in which your customers can interact with your brand in-stores, on their couch, and anywhere in between to buy exactly what they want, at the moment they want it. It’s no longer optional to include digital in your overall marketing strategy. If you ignore the digital world you will be left behind.

Here are three ways tech will shake up retail in 2015.

1) Retailers will be bridging the gap between online-to-offline (O2O) sales:

  • 93% of retail sales are still fulfilled offline but the decision process starts online. Today, the buyer journey often begins with an online search for a product or location. Savvy brands will ensure they are findable online so they are top of mind for consumers. But brands also need to build an O2O funnel so that the customer is carried through a seamless journey right to your in-store locations.
  • In 2015, blending O2O channels will become even more crucial; it’s not just about crossing the chasm, it’s about how the two spaces work together in an “omni-channel” environment to create a universal brand experience for the consumer.
  • The US Commerce Dept. says $2 trillion of consumer spending will be influenced by O2O digital marketing; 58% of people in the US carry smartphones according to Pew Research 2014. They will use them to search for product reviews, compare prices, and receive last minute geo-targeted coupons delivered in the instant they are debating the purchase. These digital interactions will change the way a consumer shops and spends their money.

2) The term “Omni-channel” isn’t going anywhere.

  • Some dismissed “omni-channel” as just a buzz word of 2014, but it’s not going anywhere; it will be the predominant strategy in retail marketing as tech continues to make it more possible to link initiatives together.
  • Slick Brick-and-mortar retailers in 2015 are using everything in their arsenal to stand out. To grab consumer attention, retailer’s will use radio and print ads, but also digital advertising, amazing customer service, SEO, social media, and local search to send a clear, targeted message to cut through the noise.
  • Buyer’s will come to expect a seamless experience. It’s now possible to buy an item online, arrange to pick it up at a nearby location, all while redeeming loyalty points on an in-store app. This has become the new standard. Bonus points if you can send geo-targeted coupons when I walk by your store!

3) Improving the in-store customer experience:

  • In-store apps will step up their game; beacon technology and loyalty apps like ThirdShelf, or ShopKick will come together to merge product information with buyer history. It will be like having a personal buyer assistant right in your pocket,that knows your preferences based on what you bought last time. Pay attention to Macy’s, American Eagle and The Hudson’s Bay Company who tested beacons in the past year. We can’t wait to see how they integrate it across their stores.
  • More brands will introduce features that let you begin your buying process online and finish it in stores. Brands like Future Shop, Best Buy, Macy’s and Target are already letting users buy online and pick up in-stores.
  • 2015 will start to see retailers iron out the bugs and get creative with tech to set themselves apart; features they might have tested in 2014 that were successful will be instrumental in defining the big players.

So how are you going to use tech to shake up your brand this year?

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