Do You Know About These Emerging Retail Trends?
Friday, September 29, 2017

Do You Know About These Emerging Retail Trends?

We often get so caught up thinking about what we need to do today that we lose sight of the bigger picture. An unfortunate truth for both for our professional and personal lives. Of course, if we never take a moment to look up and consider the emerging retail trends that are set to disrupt our world tomorrow, we can’t prepare for them. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re actually able to take advantage of these new processes and technologies at this stage. What matters is that you know how to react to them once they become the standard of our world.

To that end, lets explore three major technology retail trends that can shake the foundations of shopping. From drone delivery finally getting off the hype train, to instant pickup of online orders and the widespread penetration of voice commerce, there is a lot to look forward to, and a lot to prepare for.

1. Drone Delivery Takes OffRetail fulfillment is an area ripe for innovation and disruption

The hype has been building around drone delivery since Amazon made headlines by unveiling their plans on 60 Minutes in 2014. Since then, we’ve seen even more seemingly outrageous announcements, including Walmart getting into the game. Then there is the patent filing for a blimp-style drone delivery hub in the mold of the Amazon Floating Warehouse from 2016.

This discussion has made it clear that fulfillment is an area ripe for innovation and disruption. However, in order to truly take advantage of any new capability as bold as this, it is crucial that retailers first step up their omni-channel game and create more efficient and connected fulfillment strategies.

When we draw lines backward from a perfectly functioning drone delivery program, it’s clear that being able to offer fast and free delivery today is a huge first step. Amazon already does this, in no short measure because of major investments in its infrastructure, including more than 30,000 robots that make delivery fast and cheap (once they pay off the robot purchase!). While drone delivery may still be in beta, and in review with the FAA, retailers can prepare by establishing omni-channel fulfillment strategies that take advantage of stores as a central hub or pickup location, just like a floating blimp warehouse would be for drones.

 

 

2. Instant Pickup Is Happening Now

What Instant Pickup emphasizes is that Amazon is entering omni-channel retail with a defined strategy.

Amazon launched its “Instant Pickup” program in August, guaranteeing two-minute pickup for online orders of select food and beverage items. We admit, this is more of a PR stunt to show off its new omni-channel capabilities with its foray into physical retail, namely its recent Whole Foods acquisition. Convenience stores already make it as simple as it gets to grab a coconut water and power bar for the post-workout or post-night out emergency.

But what instant pickup really emphasizes is that Amazon is entering omni-channel retail with a defined strategy. It’s barely been a year since we first saw the launch of the Amazon pop-up shop, yet already they have demonstrated how to meet the customer desire for instant gratification. As Amazon rumbles onto Main Street, other retailers don’t have the luxury of continually postponing the implementation of a comprehensive omni-channel strategy. Our research shows that 75% of the North American market has yet to get on board. Time is up. Amazon has long been the benchmark for consumers expectations online. Now it has laid down the gauntlet in omni-channel.

Make The Most of Your Click-and-Collect

Amazon is adding 460 in-store pickup locations through the acquisition of Whole Foods. Retailers need to get in the game and put in place their own click and collect services, or get knocked over by the oncoming train. And this doesn’t mean offering three to seven-day pickup options. Almost any retailer could ship an item right to a customer’s doorstep in that time frame. Speed is the whole point, and increasingly essential to win customer dollars.

Best Buy is a great example of a retailer nailing this practice today. They guarantee one-hour pickup for almost any online order. In reality, you need to be ready to offer pickup within two hours of an order placement in order to compete in the increasingly demanding omni-channel retail landscape. Competitors won’t wait; you can’t afford to either.

3. Voice Commerce Makes A Statement

Voice commerce is the new major channel for mobile orderingThe adoption of intelligent assistants seems to be the natural evolution of mobile and convenient shopping. A June 2017 study by Morning Consult claims that 18.8 million Amazon Echo devices have been sold to date. What’s more, they found that 15.7 million Google Home devices are also in use.

But just because people want to talk to their computer doesn’t mean much for retail on its own. But when we consider that a recent survey of Alexa-owning consumers in July 2017 found that 71% of them have made at least one purchase using an Alexa voice command, and 46% are repeat users, we see the tremendous impact that voice commerce has. It is a new, major, channel for mobile ordering.

It isn’t just Amazon getting into the game, though. Walmart has recently partnered with Google to leverage Google Assistant technology to order products from Walmart’s online store. Many other large companies, like Starbucks and REI, are getting into the game by adding Skills to the Alexa repertoire. They’re simply offering their consumers another way to shop how they want, with limited friction or restriction.

Voice commerce won’t require retailers to build their own voice recognition software. And for some retailers, like those in fashion or specialty, there isn’t enough control to make voice ordering relevant. But there are a lot of other uses for smart assistant integration. For example, a smart assistant might be able to help a customer find an item in their local store or track their click-and-collect order. It’s simply the next step in mobile commerce and omni-channel convenience and brand-consumer relationship building.

The Future Starts Today

These retail trends are only now entering the mainstream conversation.  However, that is exactly why all retailers need to pay attention to them. If you don’t take action soon, or at least consider and plan for how you will take action down the line, the world will pass you by and you’ll be in a mad scramble to catch up.

 

Related: 

Voice Technology: Should Retailers Invest?

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