Technology – or to be more precise, the way consumers use technology – is a big factor behind major trends shaping (and reshaping) retail today. These trends, identified in a recent report from Bazaarvoice, include social networks' growing roles; agenda-setting Millennials; mobility's meteoric rise; and customer expectations of a seamless omnichannel experience.
· Shopping is social: Shoppers aren't just stumbling into user-generated content; they're actively seeking it out and making it an indispensable part of the shopping journey. Seven out of 10 consumers research online before making an in-store purchase, and the average shopper uses approximately 10.4 sources of information to make a purchase decision. After Dillard's increased review volume on its website, it found that shoppers who looked at reviews with visual media were 23% more likely to convert. Consumers want e-mails, alerts, product suggestions and user-generated content they can filter and sort according to the attributes they care about.
· Millennials are setting the tone: Consumers born roughly between 1978 and 1995 are profoundly shaping the consumer experience; by 2017, it's estimated they will have more spending power than any other generation. Just over half of Millennials say consumer opinions found on a company's website have a bigger impact on purchase decisions than recommendations from family and friends, and 63% say that knowing a company is mindful of its social responsibilities makes them more likely to buy from that brand.
· Mobile is the medium: By the end of this year, more than half the people in the U.S. will own a smartphone, and mobile traffic is expected to account for 40% of all data traffic. Forrester Research projects that smartphone-based commerce will increase from $3 billion in 2010 to $31 billion in 2016. Consumer users of smartphones (and tablets) become an always-on opportunity for retailers to tap.
Which trend do you think will most impact college stores in 2013? How are you addressing the issue in your store? Tell us in the comments section.