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Get to Know Trends in Retail and Ecommerce

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Describe the growth and scale of retail and commerce.
  • Explain new trends in retail and ecommerce.
  • Describe how retailers need to change to satisfy customer expectations.
  • Explain how a 360-view of customers helps retailers improve products and processes

Introduction

Retail sales continue to grow across the globe, recovering from a pandemic-related dip in 2020.

Total Retail Sales Worldwide, 2020 - 2025

Trillions and % change

Total Retail Sales Worldwide, 2020 to 2025

Source: Statistica, 2023

Ecommerce is growing fast and is forecasted to account for a quarter of total global retail sales by 2026.

Retail Ecommerce Sales Worldwide, 2015 - 2026

Trillions, % change, and % of total retail sales

Retail ecommerce Sales Worldwide, 2015 to 2026

Source: Statistica, 2023

So what are some significant industry trends in retail and ecommerce?

Trend 1: The Connected Customer

The connected customer is fundamentally transforming retail. This customer is mobile, social, and savvy about digital ways to shop, but still interested in a seamless in-store experience.

When it comes to online shopping, almost 60% of ecommerce traffic now comes from mobile devices, and 70% of social media order share. And the digital environment influences in-store experiences too. What’s happening on social media, digital storefronts, and through multi-channel marketing brings shoppers into stores. While there, they use their mobile devices to search for promotions, compare prices, or join loyalty programs.

Connected customers have very high expectations. They interact with brands through many touchpoints—web, mobile, social, marketplaces, store, and ads. When they have a question, they’d like an instant answer. And when they are ready to make a purchase, they don’t want anything to slow them down, no matter which touchpoint they are using. Connected customers want each encounter to be great, and for all their interactions to feel like a single, unified experience.

Retailers Struggle to Meet Customer Expectations

Few brands are able to deliver that kind of unified experience. There’s a gap between what connected customers want and what most commerce teams can deliver.

Commerce teams struggle with:

  • Disparate and duplicative systems: Each touchpoint with the customer is often backed its own technology that is not integrated with any others.
  • Customer data scattered across many systems: This means that different groups like marketing, customer service, and merchandising don’t have access to data they need, or simply don’t know where to find it.
  • Multiple sources of truth: Retailers have no single view of the customer, products, prices, promotions, and so on.
  • Lots of complex back-end integration: When retailers are able to integrate data across their many systems, the integrations tend to be inflexible. They frequently break down whenever there is a software update or upgrade to any of the systems.
  • Order management: Two-day shipping and flexible post-purchase options like buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) are now table stakes for shoppers, but can be hard to execute, especially if you’re a smaller retailer.

Trend 2: The 360 View

When retailers know more about their customers, they can do a much better job of personalizing their experiences and giving them what they really want. A platform that aggregates and intelligently uses data gives retailers a 360 view of their customers and their operations. Retailers can use the information they have to constantly improve their products and the ways they interact with shoppers. 

A 360 platform enables unified commerce, manages the shopper’s entire commerce experience, from marketing to shopping to personalized product recommendations to fulfillment to customer service and follow-up marketing and retargeting. It works equally well on mobile devices, social media, and in stores, so retailers offer omni-channel experiences. That means shoppers enjoy similar responsiveness no matter how they choose to engage with the retailer, shop, and buy. For example, a customer service request typed into a chatbot is resolved just as easily as one handled in-person with a store associate.

Brands are thinking beyond individual retail channels to meet customer expectations for personalized attention, relevant product recommendations, responsive customer service, and more. They are embracing technology that can support these goals, and also allow them to evolve with changing shopper needs and easily scale to meet peak demand.

The Commerce Cloud Solution

Not only does Commerce Cloud provide a seamless online and in-store experience, it integrates with other Salesforce solutions and third-party apps to let brands provide exactly the kind of experience connected customers want.

From the time a shopper first sees a targeted ad, to their personalized shopping and buying experience on any channel, to seamless customer service and a vibrant community forum for brand loyalists, Commerce Cloud and the Salesforce platform deliver a unified experience.

Retailers continuously gather data to create a 360 view of customers and their business. They use this information to improve shoppers’ experiences, and their own internal products and processes, which drives business growth.

Want to hear more about what Salesforce sees in our commerce future—and yours? 

Visit our blog.

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