The great news is
that 2018’s retail focal points are wholly consumer-centric. In other words,
they’re all about making the customer happy. The bad news (or the opportunity,
for the optimistic) is that it’s only the dynamic brands that will remain ahead
of the pack.

Personalisation in

A fundamentally different audience is driving a paradigm shift towards
customisation, not only in the arena of marketing and advertising, but also in
products, services and payment methods.

“Retailers are coming to the realisation that their main target
demographics – millennials and, increasingly, Gen Z – connect with brands that
are proactive in engaging them,” says Bob Glazer, managing director of
affiliate marketing company Acceleration Partners, in an interview with e-Commerce Times.

Amazon, for instance, has managed to make its conversations with customers
engaging and interesting, and its personalisation of shopping experiences isn’t
unsettling (how do they know I love Stephen King?), it’s helpful. How much
easier would it be if you could visit your favourite bookshop online and have
it list all of your preferred authors and then let you know if new books are
available? And you can get the book you want delivered to your front door using
your mobile phone and the payment platform of your choice.

Swedish retail furniture company, Ikea, recently launched a virtual reality
showroom where you can wander around their store without getting up from the
couch. And Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper uses information from its Smart Shopper
cardholders to send personalised discount coupons every month, based on what
you usually buy as well as general discounts off your next purchase. 

These are the kinds of personalised retail experiences that 2018 is
establishing as an expectation, rather than a luxury. Therefore, in order to
compete and cultivate more fruitful relationships with consumers, businesses
need to provide options for customisation, as the above-mentioned brands have
demonstrated. E-commerce stores should deliver unique experiences that are
tailored to the individual’s lifestyle, which means product suggestions, ads
and payment solutions that are relevant to their desires, needs, interests and
geographical location. 

According to Karen Nadasen, PayU South Africa CEO, “Personalisation is an
important part of the industry in 2018 and one that companies cannot afford to
ignore. The challenge here, of course, lies in understanding the customer behaviour
that determines whether or not they hit the ‘buy’ button and their loyalty to
that brand. Thankfully we have huge amounts of available data for that.”

Automation in

Another arena seeing change in 2018 is automation and, in particular, payment
automation. One of the desirable traits of e-commerce is that payment is
seamless or frictionless. The e-commerce site that “remembers” and panders to
customers’ buying decisions and payment method preferences, practically lays
out the red carpet for customer loyalty, putting them within a single click of
making purchasing decisions.

“A holistic customer experience, whether online or offline, is already in play
in SA. Whereas, payment whilst shopping will soon become completely
frictionless, to the point where you will simply move through the store or
e-commerce site and walk out or click away without going through checkout. This
is now a reality in Seattle, where the first Amazon Go store opened recently,
ironically, to throngs of interested shoppers standing in long queues,” adds

E-commerce automation streamlines and optimises a brand’s selling process and
the customer’s buying experience, which is why its adoption in 2018 and moving
forward will become so important for businesses wanting to remain competitive.
This, coupled with e-commerce personalisation are two major shifts that, with
the introduction of the Internet of Things, machine learning, artificial
intelligence and voice shopping, are already making waves in South African and
global retail.

Source: Bizcommunity