The Future of Retail
The Walker Sands Future of Retail study analyzes the rise and adoption of emerging retail technology, with a heavy focus on gauging consumer reaction to potential game-changers like drones, virtual reality and mobile commerce. The annual report also documents changing habits of shoppers.In their third annual consumer survey, while the shifts in consumer opinion and behavior are subtle, they have equally large implications. E-commerce has reached a saturation point in many ways, and consumer excitement has waned for some of the sexiest emerging tech.Despite this, the retail technology space is still undergoing a major transformation. The Walker Sands Future of Retail 2016 & Beyond study, outlines four key areas where retailers should focus their attention.
Growing Importance of the Supply Chain
Over the past three years, our findings have shown that seamless shipping, delivery and returns have become more and more important to consumers, making them primary future drivers of e-commerce growth. So it’s no wonder fulfillment has become a top investment area for retailers, with 29 percent of capital expenditures last year going toward solutions like transportation and logistics, delivery options, order management, inventory visibility and returns management.
Integration of In-Store and Online Experiences
While e-commerce is now a routine part of consumers’ lives, this year’s study reveals there’s still a clear preference to shop in physical stores for most product categories, but a receptiveness to blending the online and brick-and-mortar experiences.While less than a third of retailers had implemented beacon technology in 2015, the study found that 7 in 10 consumers would be willing to opt into in-store tracking and mobile push notifications if they were properly incentivized by retailers.Although beacons have been slow to take off, this area seems ripe for adoption as retailers like Macy’s, Target and Lord & Taylor roll out their beta beacon programs to the masses. And in a case of bringing the in-store experience online, virtual reality e-commerce – or v-commerce – seems to be entering the early-adoption phase and could represent the next big integration area for the in-store and online shopping experiences.
The Rise of Luxury E-Commerce
Luxury goods have been the clear laggard when it comes to consumers’ willingness to shop online. But the product category saw a dramatic spike this year, with the number of consumers who have purchased a luxury item like high-end jewelry in the past year more than quadrupling from 2014. This finding lines up with analyst predictions that online sales of luxury goods will triple to around $80 billion by 2025, making it one of the fastest-growing areas of e-commerce.
Slow Mobile Payments Adoption
Privacy and security concerns remain the primary reasons that consumers are hesitant to use mobile payment applications. This could explain why adoption has essentially remained flat year over year, with about a third of consumers having used these applications.Still, U.S. mobile payment transactions are expected triple in 2016 to $27 billion,4 a sign that a few eager early adopters and the growth of Apple Pay could eventually force more widespread changes in consumer behavior.