What will consumers expect from their retail experiences in 2023? Stellar customer service and selection for sure. But where will they find what they’re looking for and how can you create a retail environment that stands above the rest? Here are some thoughts on what consumers will expect from retail this year from Hootsuite.
1. Ecommerce is here to stay
Ecommerce exploded in popularity and volume of sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. That growth has slowed some, but consumers have developed ecommerce shopping habits they won’t be letting go of anytime soon.
Technology has made it easier than ever to sell online and social commerce is on the rise as well. There are an estimated 12 to 24 million ecommerce stores globally as a result. And more than half of internet users (58.4 percent) are buying online weekly. Analysts expect global ecommerce to grow to $8.1 trillion by 2026, increasing sales by more than 30 percent from 2022 ($5.7 trillion), according to Statista. By 2023, eMarketer predicts that ecommerce will make up 22.3 percent of total retail sales. Now is the time to commit to ecommerce if you haven’t already. Even if consumers end up shopping in store, they’re starting online.
2. Data safety and privacy
As more consumers shop online and even in person, they are looking for greater protections for personal data and privacy.
There is growing concern about how social media companies and websites collect data, and retail has been one of the most targeted sector for cyberattacks since 2020, according to a Trustwave Global Security Report. Globally, governments are putting regulations in place to protect consumer privacy, but there are actions you can take now as a retailer to help set aside consumer concerns.
According to Forbes, there are several steps you can take to put your customers worries about security to rest:
- Use reputable payment providers
- Create and follow data privacy and security best practices
- Use fraud prevention tools
- Install SSL certifications
- Ensure your site is fully PCI compliant
- Invest in a quality hosting provider
3. Around-the-clock customer service
Customer service expectations among consumers are higher than ever. Positive and negative experiences can impact repeat business. Customer service needs to shine and it has to be available when the consumer needs it, especially online where consumers can shop at any time, day or night. Providing reliable 24/7 customer support can improve your relationship with customers and can help mitigate frustrations when there are issues that are out of their control. It’s unrealistic to have a human support team available 24/7, so that’s where a chatbot on your website can be of help. You can also offer FAQs and shipment delay information.
4. Integrated online/in-store experiences
Over these last several years, integrated online/in-store experiences have become important to consumers. Consumers want to be able to research online and buy in-store. Or vice versa. The distinction between these two platforms has faded in recent years, and to stay competitive, it’s in a retailer’s best interest to take an omnichannel approach to sales. According to a 2022 eCommerce Report, 60 percent of consumers conduct research online before making a major purchase. And if they make a return in store, 80 percent of the time, they will likely spend that refund with you once again.
5. Shipping/delivery transparency
Speed, cost and transparency in shipping are major retail trends for 2023. According to a recent Forbes survey, in exchange for free shipping on all online orders, 25 percent of consumers surveyed said they would give up coffee. However, fast and free delivery doesn’t do it all. Retailers need to fulfill delivery promises to win and retain customers. Be transparent about shipping timelines and delays, and let consumers know what to expect. According to a 2022 eCommerce Trends report, 69.7 percent of consumers say they are less likely to buy from a retailer if their shipping expectations aren’t met.
Be clear with expectations and provide the ability for consumers to check and see where their deliveries are. With supply chain delays that have gotten better but are still a challenge in the home furnishings industry, it’s important to communicate delays that are out of your control with your customers before they have to ask.