In 2021, the retail industry experienced a digital switchover into a “bring-it-to-me” world — one where the retail experience is ideally an instant one. Consumers amid a pandemic found things like curbside delivery and contactless payments intriguing and valuable.
For instance, according to PYMNTS Connected Economy research, 92% of consumers have now made at least one online order and 1 in 3 consumers shopped online in December alone this past season, not because stores were closed and they had no choice, as in 2020, but rather because they chose to.
These buying patterns and habits are the ones consumers want to stick with long-term, and that is why further innovation on the omnichannel front not only makes good business sense but appears inevitable.
Show Me the Money
First, expect touchless transactions and real-time payment options to continue to take hold. While physical retail had originally been slow to adapt digitally, once the pandemic realities hit the decision to invest became a matter of necessity and survival. As such, physical retailers have caught up quickly to keep their doors open and meet these changing needs.
Case in point, COVID-19 made quick, easy payments a matter of forced innovation — out of necessity, said Nik Sathe, Blackhawk Network’s chief technology officer, noting that everyone had to stop mulling the merits and adopt omnichannel tech pretty much overnight.
“Omnichannel experiences are probably going to be the single biggest long-term impact [from the pandemic era],” Sathe said. “The same types of capabilities that users have come to expect in the digital world are now permeating both the digital and the physical and really connecting the two in a seamless payments and shopping experience.”
As Drew Edwards, CEO of Ingo Money, summed up, “Once consumers get a taste of instant payments — that’s when they’ll hit the tipping point.”
Transactions That Tug at Heartstrings
Omnichannel offerings bring about a tremendous deal of competition as consumers have so many digital options to easily peruse, but app and other forms of retail saturation are crying out for simplicity. Therefore, in addition to the more transactional aspect of a “bring-it-to-me” economy, like instant touchless payments, we expect omnichannel offerings to become more emotionally charged to break through this clutter and noise.
If consumers feel loyalty, trust, and like what they’re buying and think the particular goods of a certain company improve their lives, they will continue purchasing from this company, even when similar options available to them.
For example, a company called DROPIT offers consumers who’ve lost car auctions gift certificates as a sort of consolation prize to keep them wanting more, feeling part of an experience and engaged.
Or consider how buying a Gucci handbag in-store is something open to anyone who has the means and the desire, whereas buying a Gucci nonfungible token for your avatar online in the metaverse is a brand new experience that feels totally fresh.
Similarly, instead of browsing the racks of your favorite retailer in-person, imagine browsing the racks virtually in a store you created and now stock and manage online. Such is the case for Forever 21, which seeks to entice younger consumers to build a metaverse shopping experience.
The main idea here is no matter where you are, there are more ways than ever to engage and purchase from a company or brand that go well beyond the traditional transaction, not to mention the traditional rivalries that have shaped competition as we currently know it.
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