Why should anyone be bothered about the future of online shopping? We all should be concerned as the latest market trends show that there will be radical shift from what we are currently experiencing today. Making projections from these trends and planning to survive the change ahead should be the focus of every online vendor. This article explains in details all that is needed to be known about the future of online shopping.
What is Online Shopping?
Online shopping, which is also known as e-shopping or internet shopping is a form of business activity that allows a buyer to purchase goods and services from a seller over the internet. Online shopping can be facilitated either through web browser or via an app. Over the years, marketing activity has become digitalized as many people prefer to order for goods and services from the comfort of their homes or offices.
This activity starts with buyers surfing the website of the seller for products they have interest in purchasing; they could also use search engines to identify online vendors who sell a particular product, check through their catalogue that clearly shows the product’s availability and price.
Online shopping has reduced drastically the need for buyers to stay on queues to get their goods. They can now make their orders and expect delivery at their door post. A great advantage of online shopping is that it is always opened throughout the 24 hours of the day and people can always make orders at their convenience. Products sold online could be digital or physical products.
Types of Online Shoppers
There are different online shoppers and below are a few of them:
These sets of online shoppers are still new to online shopping. They usually begin their purchases with low budgets and they also try as much as possible to avoid complex pages and click buttons. To help them, ensure your sales interface is simple to navigate and easy checkout process.
The Bargain Shoppers
They are not loyal to any brand. They are mainly concerned about getting products of the lowest price. These sets of shoppers use comparative shopping tools to ensure that they are getting the best bargain on products. You have to convince them that you are giving them the best price they can find anywhere.
The Surgical Shoppers
These set of shoppers know the exact product they are shopping for. They are only concerned about getting the product, whose specifications aligns exactly with what they have in mind to purchase. What other help can you give such shoppers if not real time customer service, from well informed operators?
The Recreational Shoppers
These set of shoppers shop for fun. They do not have a particular product in mind. They just want to catch fun and enjoy themselves. To make these shoppers ‘repeat’ customers, ensure your site is exciting and full of pictures to arouse their interest.
The Reluctant Shoppers
They are worried about privacy and security issues. They are first interested in researching about purchases before thinking of taking any action. To help these set of shoppers, ensure your privacy and security are well stated. They would feel comfortable to shop if this is in place.
Traditional Shopping vs Online Shopping
For traditional shopping, buyers go to the physical stores to get products of their choice. They have the privilege of seeing the products, handle if possible, before making an informed choice of purchasing or not. Also, buyers are able to go home with their products as soon as products are made. A major advantage of the traditional shopping is the direct face-to-face communication the buyer gets to have with the buyer. A big issue with the traditional shopping is that the store might not actually have the specific product that you want. And other stores that also sell could have run out of stock.
The Online shopping, on the other hand, provides for huge convenience as the buyer can order from any location; although you stand the risk of online fraud. Also, customers get to pay more, especially if they have to pay for shipping fees. This could actually change the dynamics of the transaction if the buyer is not buoyant.
Why Online Shopping is Becoming Popular
While there are several reasons the retail industry is growing popular, it is important to note some of the major reasons. First, the online shop provides the customers a huge opportunity to make informed choices about their preferences. This is not unconnected to the fact that there are several reviews from previous buyers that decisions can be based on. Who wouldn’t fancy getting information about a product of interest?
Again, customers are saved a lot of stress when shopping. Imagine moving from one physical store to another to get a favorable price for a product, when you can just compare prices from different stores, right from the comfort of your home. Also, there are several instances where many online stores offer online exclusive sales, in a bid to get rid of stocks, which they probably do not need.
Furthermore, shopping online can be done at any time of the day unlike several physical stores that open 8am and close 5pm. The time flexibility endear many people to online shopping as they even have the option to save their orders in an online cart.
Online shops also parade a wide variety of goods as they are not limited by space, compared to what’s seen in physical stores. The accessibility to products sold around the world is also vital to its wide embrace by customers.
Challenges Facing Online Shopping
Below are some of the challenges facing online shopping;
Quality of Products
There have been several complaints from customers about the quality of the goods purchased from online stores. Many of the products are sometimes way different from the picture displayed on the seller’s catalogue.
Challenges in Delivery Duration
While there are stated delivery dates for these products, it is baffling most of the products are not delivered within the stated period. Sometimes, it becomes even difficult in tracking the products due to logistics.
Issues on Payment
Have you ever tried to make a purchase online but there seems to be no confirmation of your payment? This is a challenge faced by most buyers. Sometimes, they get scammed by internet fraudsters acting like e-retailers.
Complications from Website Navigation
Some online retailing websites are difficult to navigate. While many website builders might pride in the complexity of a website, it is actually a great disadvantage to the online stores. Not all customers have the patience to carefully explore a website that has a complex structure.
Factors Defining the Future of Online Shopping
The online shop would be hugely defined by a whole lot factors ranging from upgrade in online stores to mode of delivery. For instance, the constant development of online sites would be instrumental to the future of online shopping, as several initiatives would be carried out, in a bid to stake a place in the market.
Again, the display of products have been creatively re-invented as technology is now used to market products, coupled with social network, that has seen a rapid increase in the use of social media channels and other websites.
With the competitive state of the market, online vendors are always watching out for ways they can become market leaders. This has led to several expansions, which are obviously done to accommodate future growth.
Predicting the Future of Online Shopping
With the increasing embrace of online shopping, it is noticeable that there would be some radical changes to its mode of operations in the coming years. Below are some of the predictions:
Increase in Payment Options
Over time, we have seen several payment options such as ‘mobile payments’ and ‘bank deposit’. This spells a need for a payment channel that would allow customers choose payment options that they want. A ‘Pay later’ option could be a feature that would increase sales in the nearest future.
Use of Virtual Assistants
Creating creative contents that are persuasive could be enhanced with the use of voice tools. There could be an increase in the use of voice-activated coupons that can be used in the purchase of products. Online vendors should consider catalogues that have voice assistants inbuilt.
Value Increase for Product Reviews
Research has shown that many buyers now go through the product reviews before attempting to make any purchase. They are always looking forward to recommendations from existing users of products or brands. This implies that products would need persuasive product reviews.
Efficacy of Product Pages
Many product pages do not give enough details about products and this affects sales. Buyers need all information available on a product, coupled with the fact that they are not physically present to ask questions about the product or brand.
Planning for the Future of Online Shopping
Preparing for the future of online shopping takes a conscious effort. Of course, we cannot assertively say what will eventually happen but we can at least make projections based on what’s obtainable at the moment. The predictions aforementioned would definitely help in making plans for the future of online shopping. There are several factors that would definitely shape the scope of the market, ranging from customer data to analytics.
However, what remains certain is that sellers need to be acquainted with the trends in the behavior of consumers as well as technology, which would ultimately change the dynamics of the market. They have to get the necessary strategies that would keep them in pace with any change in the market. Online vendors have to be alert and study market trends properly, if they want to be market leaders or category definers. It is important to note that online vendors that are not willing to adjust to changes in the market would be outdated. Keeping track of market changes would help in planning for the future of online shopping.
The Retail Industry: Growing or Declining
Often times, we have heard people say the retail industry has no future. These claims have been backed with reports of several stores closing down amidst stories of bankruptcies of major retail chains. It is however conflicting as there are also stories of new stores opening and many firms investing so much in the retail industry. Could this be a question of what works for people? Is the retail actually dying? Are there secrets to its sustainability? Answers to these questions can be justified based on several grounds. However, what remains pertinent is that we must all acknowledge that the role of the retail industry is currently undergoing some paradigm shift from what it was initially.
There have been arguments that the major function of the retail industry should not be to drive sales but to provide customer support services. Just as opined by Doug Stephens, “The Retail Prophet”, he believes that ‘the future of retail will see complete integration of technologies like augmented and virtual reality, the internet of things, sensor-driven packaging and connected appliances. This will result in an exponential impact on e-commerce volumes.’
We can safely conclude that the retail industry is not really dying but only adjusting to market changes that are huge definers of its direction.
The Future of Shopping Malls
The shopping mall originated from the US and became popularized after the World War II, with its tentacles now spread around the globe. Shopping malls are buildings housing different shops that are interconnected by walkways, which allow visitors to move from one unit to another.
Despite the huge presence of shopping malls around the world, their roles have witnessed several changes due to dynamics of global trends. From conventional shopping to giving visitors unique experience, the growth and impact of shopping malls on the society are fast changing.
While online shopping provides unique experience in terms of convenience, shopping malls, in a bid to remain relevant, would need to incorporate more social values that would offer pleasure to their customers. It is believed that these social activities would spur a desire in the minds of visitors.
Of course, technology would also have more significant roles to play in the future of shopping malls. Like it is currently happening in most shopping malls around the world, customers are being engaged more through the use of social media and adverts. Creating direct relationship with customers would definitely go a long way in boosting patronage of shopping malls.
The future of online shopping is already on us. Online vendors and business owners have to swing into action and ensure that they are well equipped for the market changes. The level of preparation would determine how businesses would thrive and become sustainable.
It is also important to note that only proactive measures would be effective in keeping pace with the future of online shopping. Predictions have been made on what the future holds; guides have been given to help in planning for the future; all that is required is the deliberate willingness to put all these details into action.