Replacing one-off events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and even Cyber Week, super-long shopping marathons are now happening 24/7, 365 days per year. This change is undoubtedly due to technology and the way our shopping habits are evolving: Thanks to the rise of the Internet, as well as the availability of personal computer, mobile and tablet devices, more people are shopping online than ever before. According to Statista.com, U.S. e-commerce sales are estimated to reach $347.3 billion by the end of 2015, and soar to $491.5 billion by 2018.
Convenience is one reason why online shopping is so desirable, but it’s not the only variable.
1. Extended Sales
Traditionally, blockbuster sale days might last in-store for just 24 hours, but online, sales are often extended for days on end. Consumers are calling the shots — they want longer sales and better promotions, and retailers are happy to accommodate. Further, social media plays a role in providing brands with easy-to-access info about what their customers want and need.
2. Delivery On-Demand
Not only do online shoppers demand bigger and longer sales, they also request special offers on the delivery of their products, including same-day delivery or free postage. The more retailers master this technique, be it through robot assistance as found in Amazon’s warehouse or via the use of a faultless supply chain strategy, the easier shopping will become for everyone.
3. A Real-Life Shopping Experience From Home
Just a few years back, online shopping was most frequently used as a tool to research a product and its price before heading to the store to purchase it in person. But now, our technologies are so advanced that we can have a great shopping experience while shopping online. We also have access to tools like HD videos, 360-degree imagery and virtual try-ons to help us make our choices that much easier, from the comfort of our own homes.
4. Shoppers Who Know As Much As Sales Workers
As a whole, computers and smart devices have helped us access information on almost any subject with complete ease. It’s no different for shopping. Compared to those who shop in-store, online shoppers are able to become far more knowledgeable about the products they are buying, with little preparation in advance, as they have a readily available tool for research.
5. Personal, Relevant Real-Time Suggestions
The latest online technologies are becoming better at providing real-time, relevant suggestions that aren’t only personalized, but also accurate in terms of your search habits and previous purchases. As a result, we find more of what we like much easier than we would in a real store.
6. More Speed, No Contact
Although online shopping is moving fast, brick-and-mortar stores are also benefiting from new tech, helping create an easier, safer shopping experience for their customers. The introduction of contactless payments has taken the industry by storm. In 2013, according to Statista.com, the global, mobile payment volume amounted to roughly $235 billion dollars, with the most popular use of mobile payments being online purchases. This is expected to continue to grow year after year.
7. The Doors (Or Windows) Are Always Open
Main street shops control when we can and can’t visit, but with an online store, there’s no limit. You can shop wherever you like, whenever you like, and buy pretty much anything you like. The more time we can save the more fun we’re likely to have on those leisure days spent shopping.
With retail being such a dynamic industry, it comes as no real surprise that retail stores are exploring technology almost as much as the online community. So far, we’ve seen the introduction of smart windows, interactive mirrors and robot assistants. Although some of these innovations are uncommon now, they might not be in a matter of years. Doug Stephens, the founder of Retail Prophet predicts, “We will see more disruption in the next ten years of retail than we did in the previous one thousand.”
9. Futuristic Fun
In the future, there’s much to expect from technology. Experts predict that traditional stores will have the same analytic intelligence as the web, 30-minute delivery will become pervasive industry-wide and in-store prices could be digitized and changed several times in one hour, relevant to how other stores are pricing with their products.