The retail forecast for 2014, to sum, is mobile and is Amazon.
According to the 2014 WalkerSands “Reinventing Retail” whitepaper, retailers should expect renewed competition from Amazon and stronger marketing headwinds from mobile advertising and customer use of mobile eCommerce. The study surveyed 1,000 customers to determine buying habits and technology use.
Retail Forecast: Amazon is Next Door
Amazon is your competition, according to the retail forecast, with 95% of all consumers saying that they have purchased an item on Amazon in the past year. The vast majority repeat shop at Amazon, who consistently look to Amazon for consumer electronics, books, and clothing.
Those remaining 5%? Only 1% said they do not shop online
Amazon wins because they perfected eCommerce good practices: free shipping, easy or free exchanges and anytime customer support. They can afford this because they host regional warehouses where shipping is cheap. This is a competitive disadvantage for local retailers shipping across the nation.
Looking at mobile, the study said that 64% of consumers use their mobile device in stores. The majority of consumers look for local deals and directions.
Strategies for 2014
Going mobile and going to Amazon will continue to be consumer in the retail forecast in 2014 and beyond, but retailers can compete. There is room. Consider this:
Shoppers Want Local: Shoppers, especially those looking online, want local deals and will often search Facebook, Yelp and deal sites like RetailMeNot.com for coupons. If you want to invest in online ads, invest in social platforms that focus on local.
Going eCommerce Means Free Shipping: Consumers expect free shipping in online deals. Amazon set the standard. Studies show that over 86% of consumers prefer free commerce and find it a motivator towards sales. However, retailers do not need to sell at a loss. They need strategies to estimate shipping as part of the purchase price, or they need to create buyer thresholds to limit free shipping for less expensive items.
Technology Investments Make Sense: Since consumers now use mobile while shopping, retailers can consider mobile checkout a realistic option to reduce checkout congestion. The WalkerSands retail forecast showed that 57% of consumers were willing to use self checkout, as long as it was easy to understand.
You Need a Mobile Presence: Consider converting your current site into a responsive design if the high cost of a mobile app is a barrier. Responsive allows a retailer’s website to appear correctly on mobile, tablet or desktop. To save, keep your current site and simply create a “mobile only” site that displays only for mobile users. That way, your development costs are low and your basics for mobile content need only be current deals, directions and branding information.