Online shop of the future – How to convince the customers of tomorrow

Nowadays, anyone can easily create a web shop using various tools on the Internet. But good product ideas and a functional shop system alone are no longer sufficient for a successful online business. With the enormous changes in purchasing behaviour, customer demands are shifting at the same time – and this demands a rethink by retailers and manufacturers at all levels. For this reason, various factors should be taken into account, especially when implementing a web shop. But what do good online shops look like and what functions must they have? And what impressions do consumers have about the shopping world of the future? Read in today’s article how you can convince tomorrow’s consumers with your own online shop.

How consumers see the shopping world of the future

From 3D printing, virtual reality and self-checkout, right through to showrooming, consumers agree that innovative technologies will have an ever greater impact on the shopping experience of the future.

“Digital technologies guarantee the future success of retail. Consumers expect innovative solutions and will no longer want to abandon them in the future”, says retail expert Julia Miosga from the Bitkom e.V. Digital Association.

Customers are open to innovative solutions and automated technologies

According to a survey by the Bitkom Digital Association, some 62 percent of consumers believe that new technologies, such as 3D printing, will lead to more individualised, tailor-made items for the customers of the future. Consumers will be able to design their products digitally according to their individual ideas and then have these printed out on-site.
Some 47 percent assume that virtual reality will also continue to play an important role in purchasing in the future. With this technology, some of the products offered in retail stores can even be tested from the home. Because of such innovations, classical businesses will in future serve more as showrooms – as 56 percent of consumers believe – where goods are merely tried out before ordering.

One in two (51 percent) is convinced that, in future, household products will be replenished without any action on their part at all, thanks, for example, to intelligent, smart household appliances like refrigerators or washing machines enabled to order food or washing powder fully independently.

Using such technologies, the assumption of every one-in-three that retail shops will in future exist without store personnel now no longer seems absurd. Some 35 percent say that, in the future, advice will be provided by digital assistants, with 33 percent even assuming they will be guided through the shop by sales robots. Consumers also see robot technology as an additional delivery option. Automated delivery methods could make the everyday life of customers much easier, since a parcel could be delivered to the door right around the clock – with annoying knocking at the neighbours’ door or the need to adapt to pick-up points’ opening hours no longer necessary. Over 30 percent of consumers can even imagine receiving their deliveries via a drone or robot.

Consumers look forward to a cashless future

Consumers also expect some changes in the payment process over the next few years. The majority (54 percent) of consumers anticipate a cashless future without cash registers and queues in supermarkets (54 percent). Various innovative concepts are already being used today to save customers long lineups at the checkout. Every item placed in the shopping basket is recorded, for example,  through links to the smartphone and the amount then automatically debited from the customer’s bank account upon leaving the shop.

The best ways to spice up your online shop

Based on the consumer expectations already mentioned, we now offer you various measures for preparing your online shop for the future.

#1: Offer your customers an individual assortment

As an online retailer, you can only score points with customers if you run interesting products and brands for them. Because tastes are known to differ, many retailers initially try desperately to build up as large an assortment as possible. Customers, however, are now known to usually be overwhelmed with this enormous selection. Instead, they prefer to discover the products that are relevant to them. In this context, larger online retailers are already investing in the development of intelligent algorithms. These will make it possible to adapt the lineup to the personal preferences of the customers. This means that consumers are only shown offers tailored to their needs during their shopping trip, which will then enormously increase the likelihood of purchase.

#2: Earn prestige through online consulting

Good consultation has been long since limited only to stationary retail. Various providers, including Outfittery and Modomoto, are leading the way here, where online consultation is already being diligently dispensed and purchase thus designed as simply as possible. There are already concepts from fashion suppliers offering suitable product suggestions according to figure type and problem zones. Bonprix, for example, is attempting to replace the changing cubicle on site with an online bra consultancy. Providing important tips on cup size, wearing comfort and fit, the customer is well informed even before the shopping even begins. And in the Stayhard online shop, customers can enter their own products and make a visual comparison with products on the current product detail page, thus giving them an idea of the actual fit. Even in the eyewear sector, online advisories are not uncommon. After selecting your own head shape, only the suitable eyewear models will then be presented.

As you can see, there are many ways to integrate online consultation into your webshop. Develop a suitable concept for your shop and win over your customers by way of virtual customer consultation.

#3: First-class product presentation

Innovative technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and 3D applications offer completely new opportunities for the high-quality staging of products. In the fashion sector, for example, the first virtual 3D shopping experiences have already been made. Consumers avoid the annoying process of dressing and undressing in the changing room and are instead trying on their clothes digitally. Various shops are also presenting their products on video. Shoe shops, for example, can present the latest models worn on real feet by video or beauty suppliers can easily showcase their products in make-up videos. Innovative technologies such as VR and AR are no longer uncommon in the furniture industry either. Some suppliers, including Otto and IKEA, already offer their own apps with which customers can easily position pieces of furniture virtually at home and thus receive support in their purchasing decisions.

There are no limits to creativity when it comes to the staging of products. Product photos should be both highly appealing and versatile. A single perspective of the article will not be sufficient, but instead the customer should have the opportunity to view the item from various perspectives. Some suppliers are gradually bidding farewell to the classic ‘tiled layout’ of an online shop and staging their items more attractively. In the fashion sector, it is sometimes customary that the dimensions of the depicted models are mentioned, while on the other hand, these can also present their individual styles through a personal profile. This means that customers can identify themselves with that model and ultimately buy products of their “favourite model”. Other retailers upload photos from their customers, in which they are wearing the actual fashion item acquired there – and here, too, identification becomes a high priority.

Whether through new technologies or the classic methods, offer your customers a particular shopping experience. Arrange your shop both attractively and structurally, so as to convince with a pleasing look and minor features – since only a customer who feels comfortable will visit your shop again and recommend it to others.

#4: Offer your customers personalised products

The trend towards an individual customer approach does not stop at personalisation either. By individualising products, you will be creating a unique and emotional product range, while at the same time ensuring a lowered rate of returned goods. Retailers are offering their customers the opportunity, for example, to have their own name or other textual components upon the products. The stationery sector is increasingly seeing personalised requests, in which writing utensils, as an example, are adorned with names or individual slogans. Besides the subsequent individualisation of pre-manufactured products, there are also providers allowing consumers to pass through the entire design process of an article themselves and ultimately receive a product that is then individually tailored to themselves.

 Offer your customers personalised products

The stationery sector has lead the way, offering personalised pens, pads and other utensils, where customers receive an individualised product – directly tailored towards themselves. For a successful online store, retailers should definitely consider individualising their products.

#5: Ensure a cross-channel customer approach

Tomorrow’s customers will see omnichannel outlets as the basic standard for every retailer. Pick ups and returns to the store, checking stationary availability online and so much more – all of this has now become fundamental to retailers who sell online and offline. In addition, some providers already offer their customers the option of chatting with stationary retailers or arranging individual consultations with them. When it comes to addressing customers across multiple channels, social channels should not be ignored either. Retailers should be linking their online shops and social networks in order to expand reach and generate even higher traffic. The purchase function on Instagram, for example, makes it easy for the products shown to end up in the customer’s shopping cart with just a few clicks. Some shops even include customer activities on social media in their own marketing activities. Customers registered with Michael Kors who link a certain product to Instagram will, for example, receive an e-mail with corresponding product information. Other retailers, on the other hand, ask their customers to share photos of the products via a hash tag (#) and even present or link those articles containing many likes in their own webshop.

Convenience, online affinity and curiosity – these are the characteristics of tomorrow’s customers! If you miss the leap towards social media and such, you will simply turn invisible to your potential customers. Invest early in a cross-channel customer approach and quickly implement suitable measures for a successful online presence.

How to additionally convince with the right pricing

Even the most visually appealing and innovative online shop does not guarantee retailers long-term success in eCommerce. Don’t just concentrate on redesigning your web shop, but also add further components including price and competition. Especially in eCommerce, a precise market overview is crucial to your business success. Innovative solutions will support you, such as the self-learning technology of blackbee, which provides for an essential market transparency. On the one hand, this will enable a well thought-out pricing and assortment strategy by comprehensively observing markets and competitors, thus making trends visible. On the basis of individual and precise insights, on the other hand, price changes can be reacted to quickly and valuable potential thus tapped into.

With blackbee, we offer online retailers an intelligent solution for efficient market analysis in eCommerce. Do you need further information? Then contact us now – we look forward to your message!