I had a sudden urge to write about the future of online retail and shopping online. What kind of trends will shape the future of online buying?
According to Google, most online customer journeys now span at least five different channels. Furthermore, most people shopping online view and compare the items they wish to purchase multiple times before making the final decision.
Around 50% of the Finnish people are using the mobile internet on a daily basis. During the last 10 years, the overall time an average Finnish person spends online has doubled, and is now over 10 hours per week. And 80% of all Finns are also shopping online.
My latest online purchase was made in Zalando yesterday.
This company was founded in Berlin in 2008, and in Europe’s scale, Zalando has been a success story beyond comparison in fashion retail. And it all started with the idea of a convenient and simple way to purchase shoes online — and with an extensive research carried out on the needs of the customers shopping for footwear.
In the Zalando corporate website, it is stated that shopping fashion is, “above all, an emotional event – it is the emotional experience that turns clothes into your new favourite outfit, with the first impression being just as important as a detailed presentation. — That’s why it was clear from the start that the Zalando store would focus on a high-quality, professional and consistent product presentation.”
Still headquartered in Berlin, Zalando now has a creative tech hub location here in Helsinki. The buying office is located in Paris, the fashion capital of the world.
But what is most important regarding the company’s success is the Zalando website infrastructure, which really makes shopping very convenient and effortless. High-quality photos of each product are found with multiple sorting options, and there are detailed descriptions for more than 150 000 products available.
Another factor that makes Zalando one of the most attractive fashion retail stores online is the amount of effort put in offering personalized content to each customer.
I firmly believe this kind of personalization is a major aspect of the future of online shopping. As privacy issues are still of no consequence for many people online, the websites they visit receive a steady flow of information on the customer’s preferences via the browser software.
Last week, this blog turned 9 months old. I decided to buy a domain for the site, so you can also find this blog directly via the URL http://lifeofaplanner.fi. The blog currently features 30 posts, including this one. I attempt to publish around 3 posts each month.
“Experience economy” has been a recurring theme in this blog in relation to digital service design.
My most popular post so far has been “Designing for Happiness”, inspired by the IXDA 2016 event in Helsinki, and written a few months back (https://iiriskblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/designing-for-happiness/).
In that post, I briefly introduced Stephen Anderson’s “User Experience Hierarchy of Needs”, and stated that “the products and services that make people happy must be functional, reliable, and usable, but moreover, they must be convenient, pleasurable and meaningful.”
To recap the most important statement of that post, I think it is safe to say that the most meaningful things in life are, of course, the things we love – the things that make us happy.
And tapping into the potential for happiness is definitely worth the effort of creating personalized content for each customer segment, even for each customer online via an algorithm at the website.
Yet the online customers also expect an element of surprise and serendipitious discovery.
Adidas recently ventured to launch “Avenue A”, a box subscription service. Every Avenue A box is designed and curated by a celebrity fitness artist, such as Nicole Winhoffer. The subscriber receives 4 boxes per year, each featuring a mix of 3 to 5 Adidas items. The Summer 16 edition will ship with Adidas MiCoach Fit Smart watch. All for the price of $150 per box.
While some of us shop for more and more new clothes online, others are now purchasing little-worn clothes and accessories over the internet.
San Fransisco -based ThredUp is a website with the slogan “Secondhand clothes. Firsthand fun.” And a plethora of rare vintage items are still being sold through eBay. I recently also purchased my very first piece of clothing made solely of recycled textile fibres. Major brands, the Swedish Ikea perhaps as the most striking example of this trend, are now concerned about the reuse of their products.
According to the “JWT: The Future 100” Trend Report for this year, consumers are beginning to “join the dots” in multiple areas of their consumption patterns and lifestyles. “Across all sectors, consumers are differentiating between brands based on concern for the environment“, states the report. “Brands, once judged on their desirability and products, are now being judged on their value systems, on whether they are innovators, on whether they are promising to change the world”.
The Rituals brand, for example, recently launched its “30 Days of Good Karma” campaign online. The campaign highlights that the Rituals brand is there to help us “slow down, and to find happiness in the smallest of things”. And what better way to do so, than to stop shopping online or elsewhere for any unnecessary and non-environmental-friendly items. Rituals also offers a free app to aid meditation and mindfulness practice – and the same app will let you conveniently order more Rituals products.
Perhaps the future of online retail will be in the hands of whoever will be making it easy and memorable to make more conscious, healthy, environmental-friendly — and ultimately — more sustainable choices.