Retailers are always trying to evolve the customer experience, and we see different trends crop up year upon year. For example, how big has mobile shopping become now?! Mobile E-commerce in 2014 was up by 35% in comparison to the previous year and with the introduction of 'Cyber Monday' across the last few years, that has certainly played a part in 80% of the current internet population having already purchased online at some stage. Each online shopper has their own reasons for choosing this method of buying, but it's no doubt it's convenience is at the top of that list. A surprising stat for the UK in particular however is 13% of the UK economy is made up from online sales (expected to rise to 15% by 2017) and moving on from mobile- 27% of online sales in 2014 were made using a tablet. So if you own a PC, mobile or a tablet, it's safe to say you can order those new shoes, wherever you are. So what could 2015 bring for consumers? Personalised Pricing This hasn't become big as yet, but soon personalised pricing could really take off in every industry, including retail. Many people won’t know what this is yet, so here’s a quick update. Personalised pricing is a strategy used by companies to determine how much to target a specific customer for an item. For example the same product could be more expensive for someone depending on where they are living. Obviously consumers will have different opinions on this, but it could really take off soon.
Social Media Serving As The Primary Source of Customer Engagement This is already happening on a global scale, there's no doubt about that. Near enough every big brand company are active on one or more social media platforms, and if they're not, they should be and soon will be. Companies from the same industry take different voices and approaches on their social channels and a prime example of this is with bookies. William Hill and Paddy Power are without a doubt two of the biggest betting giants in the UK and operate their stores in similar fashion. However, each have a very different social presence. On Twitter, William Hill take action in a formal customer service manner, mostly using the platform as a base to answer customer queries, whereas Paddy Power on the other hand, boast a company page filled with jokes, memes and other edgey posts to their 480k+ following (often at the expense of big name footballers and teams occupying the social trends that day). The social media actions of companies in the same industry make it clear to the public, who their target market are (so if you're a fan of Paddy Powers mocking of the latest Premiership thrashing- you know where to bet). Which tone actually works best is still difficult to determine. I expect to see this upped even more in the year to come, and could see special offers being given to customers on social media platforms only.
3D Printing This is relatively new technology, and still a work in progress. However it has certainly expanded rapidly of late. Retailers could soon feel the force of 3D printing where instead of consumers buying their product, they print one out instead. 3D printing companies are definitely fighting for space in which is going to be a very competitive industry in the future.
Self-Serve Checkouts Checkouts are already a thing of the past in some stores (Apple for example) however could 2015 be the year when regular tills become a thing of the past? We have seen self service checkouts boom in the retail industry, and I can't see this stopping. Although many feel self service is just for a few items, companies such as Asda and Tesco are already making some of their smaller stores across the country predominantly self-serve. Taking it a step further, the Waitrose 'scan while you shop' concept continues to expand into other supermarkets. It will certainly be an excellent way for retailers to become more efficient (which hopefully will continue the trend of lower prices). Or maybe Aldi have got it right with their no frills (just very quick) checkout staff.