Online retail predictions for 2013

Take a look at overseas markets and you get a big insight into what’s ahead for Australian retail. Currently, online sales for UK department store John Lewis are up 55% on last year.

There are a large number of mutli-channel orders flowing through UK retailers, where busy consumers are booking online and collecting in-store.

Mobile shopping is going through the roof. Consumers are now far more comfortable shopping on a mobile device than in the past. This comfort factor will increase as the penetration of mobile banking increases.

While the debate rages on about the balance between the high street experience and online, in the UK online sales remain low compared to in-store sales in most (although not all) categories.

Meanwhile, touching luxury goods in-store and buying them online, for example, shows how both channels can work in harmony. This builds a great retail experience that delivers an easy online purchasing path.

What can Australian retailers, large and small, expect in 2013?

1. Mobile is going to be huge

You better get mobile, it is going to be huge. Aside from mCommerce, this also includes mobile marketing, social networking and word of mouth sharing.

2. Integrated multi-channel strategies

You have to be online, transacting on web and mobile, and you also have a great in-store experience that works in harmony.

Service and product differentials between channels will stand out and improve your consumers’ engagement.

Retailers with solid, integrated multi-channel strategies will be the winners. This means both the online user experience and in-store experience – as well as their relationship to each other – are paramount.

3. Time-poor consumers

Consumers are increasingly time poor, weary and busy people.

Research from Boston Consulting shows women are the biggest spenders in the economy, but are time poor and feel most under-valued by brands. Retailers who get this and make shopping easy will attract these women. The retailers that don’t will see these consumers go elsewhere.

4. Innovative retail models

Innovative retail models are here to stay. Examples include pop-up stores, smaller high street shops that stock just one display item of each product, order in-store kiosks and home delivery from the warehouse.

5. QR codes

QR codes are going to be big, creating an interactive in-store experience.

6. Augmented reality

Augmented reality maps will be used as store and product finders, bringing a new concept to search and find.

7. Celebrity content

Celebrity content with integrated sales will become the norm. After seeing what Jennifer Aniston is wearing in her film, I will be able to scan and buy it, then and there, via my mobile.

8. Click Frenzy

Click Frenzy will work in 2013.

9. GST is not the issue

GST is not the issue; it is poor online offerings that are the real issue for traditional old-fashioned retailers. They will lose market share in 2013 and some go to the wall, unless they pick up their e-game.

Final thoughts

In the words of Experian Hitwise:Whether Australian retailers like it or not, the local retail landscape has irrevocably changed. From “bricks and mortar” to “bricks and clicks” to purely “e-tail” – the evolution of retail is ongoing and carries significant ramifications for those who choose not to keep up with the pace of change.”

Finally, here are some interesting statistics from Bill Tancer, a leading US analyst, talking about holiday shopping.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of digital and interactive consultancy company Bendalls Group. With over 20 years’ experience, Bendall has worked with global brands including BBC and Virgin, and is an expert in how businesses can approach strategy in the digital world. You can follow her on Twitter at @FiBendall, and can contact her through Bendalls Group.

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