Sunny and disruptive: outlook for retail industry in 2013
It has been a tough year for the high street, with retailers struggling to drive sales and many high street stores shutting their doors permanently.
By contrast, the online high street saw resilient growth. In fact, the latest figures of the annual IMRG e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that online sales in November are up 18% from last year as the festive rush has encouraged consumers to reach into their digital pockets. So 2012 was a year of "Bricks vs. Clicks" but what will drive retail in 2013?
The choice of payment methods that retailers can offer to consumers seems to be constantly evolving and it is often ‘make or break’ in a purchase decision. As devices and network speeds improve and more brands take on a mobile-first approach, m-commerce will continue to accelerate and build momentum in 2013.
Alongside the growth of mobile transactions, NFC and contactless payment methods could dramatically change how people pay for products. Services like PayPal and Apple’s iTunes have already begun to centralise payments on mobile, but the next step will be services such as iZettle and Square that offer sellers the ability to receive card payments with their existing smartphone and a simple plug-in device. Being able to accept payments either online or in-store will be invaluable for merchants of all sizes in the coming years.
The digital or mobile wallet will offer more than just another payment option. Focusing on the mobile wallet from a pure payments perspective massively undervalues the impact mobiles can have. It could be said that tapping a phone is as useful as tapping a card, and as such, there’s no real benefit to the customer. Thus, in 2013 payments will finally merge with loyalty and rewards. These three separate businesses will converge to make it easy for consumers and merchants to automatically leverage appropriate coupons and offers.
Loyalty schemes and purchasing habits are two sides of the same coin when looked at from a data perspective. If approached correctly, this data can be incredibly valuable for brands in 2013, not just to build relationships with consumers but to drive sales.
Loyalty schemes such as Tesco Clubcard, Nectar and Superdrug Beautycard are heading towards the point where they can connect up their huge data repositories with smartphones, in-store WiFi, geo-location data, mobile coupons and purchase technology.
This kind of inter-connected data, and the pre-requisite opt-in from consumers, brands can target shoppers with personalised offers based on their own purchase behaviour. 2013 will see this sort of data turn consumers into fans and to drive sales.
Multi-channel – in reverse
Online only retailers such as Asos, Amazon and eBay are still very much the darlings of the e-retail world, and have in the past cast doubts on the future of the high street. Most high street retailers would do anything for the kind of growth reported by the likes of Asos, but the shift to multi-channel by the high street means that online only retailers are now missing a key element, a high street presence.
2013 will see multi-channel in reverse where online only retailers will bring pop up shops and digital windows to the high street that will use tools such as augmented reality, QR codes and mobile apps to bring in customers. Ebay has already put this into practice by testing out pop up shops earlier this year.
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