It’s been a challenging two years for the retail industry. First, a pandemic stretched the limits for retailers. Covid-19 sent millions online to shop and e-commerce reached a whole new level with a record number of shoppers going online. That trend continued to grow throughout 2021 and into this year. Despite challenges such as supply chain issues, labor shortages, cybersecurity threats and now inflation, ecommerce continues to thrive.
According to Statistica, 80 percent of Americans shop online. The numbers are expected to continue growing in 2023 but the competition will grow as well. It’s vital that retailers stay relevant and track the latest trends.
From augmented reality to the latest trends in AI, technology provides online retailers the opportunity to provide better experiences for shoppers.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, augmented reality is “a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view.”
In simple terms, as explained by Investopedia, it is an enhanced version of the real physical world which is achieved using digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli, delivered via technology.
Augmented reality (AR) is “an enhanced version of the real physical world that is achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli and delivered via technology”. It is relatively new but is also a growing trend. Think of Snapchat filters that are popular among young people, such as the funny sunglasses cartoon features that you can transpose onto your face. That is one example. Retailers can use this technology to create a better experience for shoppers.
According to Retail Technology.co.uk, 48.3 million people will engage with AR on social media this year alone which is a trend that will continue to grow in the future.
AR allows shoppers to engage with a product without touching it. For example, a customer could visualize how clothing will look on them or how a product will fit into their homes or lives.
Here are some examples of AR in a Retail Setting
Virtual Fitting Rooms: This allows customers to try on products. RFID technology scans the products, which a livestream camera will overlay onto a shopper’s body. These types of AR interactions also have a 94% higher conversion rate, according to Shopify.
Virtual product tours: Retailers can offer experiential retail in-store with virtual reality experiences and livestreams through a customer’s smartphone. Another popular tool is the “mirror” with a touchscreen that allows shoppers to find products or get recommendations.
Flexible Payment options
New technology provides faster and better options for customers ready to buy. According to Shopify, traditional checkout experiences are out-of-date and there are now several new smart checkout options that make it easier for shoppers to safely finish their transactions. Mobile Point-of-Sale technology is becoming a popular option for shoppers and provides a variety of payment options.
Some of the newest technology trends for retailers include:
- Contactless payment: This gained popularity during the onset of the pandemic and continues to be a favorite method for many people. Shoppers easily tap a credit card or mobile device on the payment terminal and voila – they are out of the store quickly and painlessly.
- Payment plans: The buy now pay later (BNPL) trend also found solid footing during the pandemic and continues to be a popular option as shoppers deal with higher prices and inflation. Almost one-third of shoppers say they abandon their shopping cart if there is not a BNPL option, according to Shopify. This method allows shoppers to make payments without interest; similar to layaway, which was popular in the 1970‘s and 80’s. Some options include Afterpay, Klarna and Affirm.
- Digital receipts: Most customers prefer a digital receipt instead of paper. Research from Capgemini.com shows 63 percent prefer it. This method is a win-win, helping reduce paper waste and allowing retailers to collect customer data by emailing or texting a receipt.
- Self-checkout: No explanation needed. This option is also gaining popularity.
- Variety of ways to pay: In this digital age, variety rules. Consumers want the option to pay in a variety of ways: debit cards, credit cards, online money transfers, such as PayPal and Venmo, and mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay.
As online shopping soars so does cybercrime. According to Dataprot.net,
59% of Americans report experiencing cybercrime in some form. This is a costly problem. So far, cybercrime has caused $6 trillion in damage in 2022 alone.
There are many ways retailers can protect their systems and their customers’ data. Getastra.com offers these key tips for retailers to protect their site and their customers from cybercrime.
Get a Secure Server Layer (SSL) Certificate: An SSL will encrypt sensitive data that could be shared across the internet. It makes sure that the information will only reach the intended recipient.
Use Rock-Solid Firewalls: This is key in protecting your site from spam, malware, and other attacks.
Invest in Anti-Malware Software: This is recommended for all of your electronic devices and computer systems. This software should detect and block malicious software also known as malware. According to Getastra.com, an effective anti-malware program will scan a computer system to prevent, detect and remove malware.
Comply with PCI-DSS Requirements: This should be a regular practice for anyone who takes credit cards, as it is required. PCI-DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, and it protects all credit card data.
Use Multi-Layer Security: Having a variety of security layers strengthens your site against attacks. One prime example is two-factor authentication. After a user logs into a site, they must provide a second method, typically a text message or an email of authentication. This helps prevent criminals from getting through.
Red Maple’s Clever Division utilizes this technology with their patented solution for collecting credit card information during a purchase. The customer only provides part of the credit card number on the e-commerce site. They then provide the rest through a secondary method, either text, email, or phone call. It is combined into a secure token to complete the purchase. The retailer will never stores the entire credit card number, so if a hacker gets through, they cannot steal valuable information.
How many people are shopping online in the U.S.?
The latest numbers form Statistica show most of us are buying online with the latest stats at 80%. That number is expected to keep growing in 2023.
What is SSL and why is it important?
SSL stands for Secure Server Layer (SSL) Certificate. This is key for your website as it will encrypt sensitive date to keep it from being shared across the internet – and only reaches the intended recipient.
What are the most popular flexible payment options?
There are several options that have gained popularity especially since the pandemic began. Contactless payments allow shoppers to easily tap a credit card or mobile device to pay. Buy now pay later (BNPL) offers shoppers the chance to set up payment plans without interest and then offering multiple ways to pay – using services such as Venmo, PayPal and Zelle.