How Are Retailers Enhancing the Online Shopping Experience?T
he holiday season has always been synonymous with crowded malls and packed stores, but recent years have seen a significant shift in consumer behavior. More and more shoppers are turning to online shopping, and retailers are taking notice. Online shopping is expected to hit new records this holiday season as retailers entice shoppers with early discounts.
Overall, eCommerce continues to grow. Retail ecommerce sales in the U.S. will reach $1.72 trillion by 2027, hitting a milestone of more than 20% of overall retail sales, according to eMarketer forecasts. As a result, retailers have been investing heavily in their digital capabilities to meet increasing online demand. The number of eCommerce sites worldwide nearly tripled between 2019 and 2023 to over 26.5 million. The U.S. accounts for over half of them.
Here’s a look at how retailers are enhancing the online shopping experience, helping them drive increased sales for the upcoming holiday season and beyond.
In an age where consumers are swamped with choices, personalized offerings stand out, making gift-giving more meaningful and shopping experiences more enjoyable. Ahead of the 2023 holiday shopping season, online retailers are prioritizing personalization to deliver relevant, engaging experiences tailored to customers’ specific needs and preferences. Sixty-six percent of retailers are prioritizing collecting first-party customer data in preparation for pre-holiday marketing efforts, according to a new report from online check company Bolt.
Knowing the customer and their preferences for products, delivery, and payment options helps retailers ensure they’re making the shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible. Targeted advertisements as well as personalized recommendations can enhance customer engagement and product discovery. A personalized shopping experience leaves a lasting impression, increasing the likelihood of repeat business and recommendations.
Retailers are increasingly adopting new technologies to enhance and simplify the online shopping experience. Augmented reality (AR) technology allows customers to virtually try on clothing and accessories and visualize how furniture might look in their home. This feature enables a more interactive shopping experience, boosts confidence in purchasing items online, and reduces the likelihood of returns.
Walmart has unveiled new tech-powered experiences designed to simplify the lives of its customers. The tools include enhanced search via the use of generative AI, a new beauty try-on experience, and a voice assistant in the retailer’s app. The retailer is experimenting with a new tool that combines the power of GenAI and AR to build on its existing slate of home and furniture AR try-out tools. With this tool, customers can share their budget, theme, and any other preferences to receive personalized assistance in designing a room.
Lengthy checkout processes and limited payment options can lead to frustrated customers and cart abandonment. Retailers are making the checkout process more seamless and secure as it becomes increasingly influential in customers’ purchasing decisions. Ninety-one percent of consumers feel a satisfying checkout experience has a substantive impact on their willingness to shop with a retailer again, according to a report from PYMNTS and Checkout.com.
Google has introduced several autofill enhancements designed to improve the online checkout experience. One of the key features of the new autofill enhancements enables shoppers to see their saved credit cards’ art and names during the checkout process. This feature aims to make it easier for users to distinguish between different card options, expediting the checkout process.
Focus on Fulfillment
Fulfillment and delivery options have developed into a lucrative revenue stream for retailers and a valuable resource for customers. Offering various options, such as same-day delivery, curbside pickup, and buy online pickup in-store, ensures that customers can choose the option that best suits their needs. These options are especially important during the holiday season as busy shoppers rely on their speed and convenience.
Click-and-collect sales, which include buy online, pick up in-store and curbside pickup transactions, are projected to surpass $100 billion this year, according to a recent Forrester report. Click-and-collect sales will exceed $200 billion by 2028 and comprise 12% of U.S. online retail sales, according to Forrester, as businesses continue to implement fast and flexible fulfillment solutions to meet the growing demand.
This holiday season, retailers are preparing for what is expected to be another record-breaking year in online shopping. By embracing new technologies and digital solutions, retailers are not only catering to the changing preferences of consumers but also enhancing the online shopping experience.
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