There’s little doubt that disruptive technology will continue to transform the retail experience in 2017. In a challenging economic and political climate for many parts of the world, connected commerce will bring a sharply competitive edge to retail.

Organisations must harness technology – particularly in the bricks-and-mortar environment – to deliver top class service, meaningful engagement and the convenience of omnichannel connectivity. Otherwise, they risk being left in the wake of those that do.

For retailers looking at where to target their technology investment, here are six connected commerce trends that will influence the retail landscape in 2017:

  1. Mobile is going truly global
    Mobile share of global ecommerce is expected to grow to 70% during 2017, up from 40% in 2015. As well as reaching new markets, mCommerce will evolve further in terms of streamlining an increasingly sophisticated customer service across channels.Improved smartphone technology is supporting this, but at the same time leading retailers are constantly strengthening their mCommerce offer, ironing out the glitches, and learning what works for their customers, and what doesn’t.In-store, we will see mobile Point of Sale (mPOS) reaching critical mass in 2017.  This technology can facilitate interaction with customers, speed up transactions, and help retail staff provide up-to-date product information on the spot, courtesy of real-time inventory checking.
  2. Technology will deliver true omnichannel experiences
    At the start of 2017, very few retailers can claim to have perfected their omnichannel model, where seamless shopping experiences can be enjoyed across all physical and digital channels. However, many companies will conquer the key challenges standing in their way over the next 12 months.This may require replacement or updating of legacy technologies, overcoming organisational barriers, and better controlling inventory and supply chains. By improving stock visibility and investing in last mile delivery and returns capability, customers are less likely to be disappointed.Retailers will also be empowered with data that gives a more personalised understanding of customers’ buying and even browsing preferences, and warehouse logistics teams will be in sync will real-time, in-store demands.
  3. Smarter stores will align the online and physical experience
    It is vital also that retailers adapt their physical stores in line with the omnichannel model in 2017, with the needs of the digital consumer central to the design of the ‘connected store’.Store staff will be required to bring the best of the web directly into a bricks-and-mortar setting. It is time to give sales associates the mobile store technology to access detailed product information, demonstration videos and product reviews, and to collect customer data to inform and personalise future purchases.Best of all, mobile store technology will bring store personnel out from behind the counter, to build experiences around the customer. According to Deloitte, the next generation store must be focused on ‘fulfilment, inspiration and being friction free’, meaning a new balance needs to be struck between transaction and fulfilment over the coming year.
  4. Convenience will continue to be king
    The beauty of connected commerce is that it allows shoppers to seamlessly switch from one channel to another. This delivers something incredibly valuable to time-poor consumers: convenience.In 2017, as we move towards hyper-connectivity in a modern, digital world, the expectation of convenience will rise, and bleeding edge retailers will be ready with impressive innovations – be that subscription services, contactless payments, or one-hour delivery slots.One very easy way for retailers to offer increased convenience in stores this year is to invest in mPOS technology that allows them to ‘queue bust’ during peak periods.
  5. Personalisation will provide greater power
    While consumers in 2017 want convenience, they also want to be inspired, and personalisation is at the heart of this concept.As the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes the new normal, more and more everyday objects will be connected to the internet, and able to communicate with other devices. A popular theory among retail technologists is that IoT will be able to provide retailers with insights into customer behaviour and preferences – becoming a ready source of consumer intelligence for retailers. The aim is to understand consumers better, and tailor to their needs. The ensuing delight will translate into higher sales and increased loyalty levels.

Is your retail business prepared for these trends? iVend Retail can support your connected commerce strategy by providing the right technology solutions to enhance your customer experience. To find out more, visit our product page.

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