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Consumers' Wishes For Their Shopping Experiences in 2018

As we hit the home stretch of 2017, there’s reason for eCommerce retailers to feel optimistic about the arrival of a new year. According to Nielsen’s annual “What’s Next in eCommercereport, total retail eCommerce is predicted to grow by 20% to become a $4 trillion market by 2020. In dollar terms, that’s an additional $2.1 trillion over the next four years, compared to $0.7 trillion across the FMCG segment. And while 23% of Americans are buying groceries online today, the rate is expected to more than triple in less than ten years.

More than ever before, today’s empowered consumers have the opportunity to vote with their dollars, to demand better shopping experiences that meet their unique wants and needs.

The question is: How well do you know what your customers want? As we reflect on the last twelve months and look forward to a bright 2018, we’re taking the time to consider these three areas that top consumers’ wish lists for the year ahead.

1. Consumers want the silos between bricks and clicks broken down for good

Shoppers are comfortable with crossing the offline-to-online divide and back again, and they expect their buyer journey to do the same. Case in point: People are webrooming (i.e. researching online, then purchasing offline) more often—up to 67% of consumers, according to RetailDive statistics—while nearly 60% of shoppers look up product info and prices via their mobile phones while in-store. Meanwhile, they’re also using digital coupons in-store more frequently—with 7 out of 10 consumers choosing a store based on acceptance of paperless coupons.

In 2018
: Map your customer journey across online and offline channels, and you’ll quickly realize that the bricks-to-clicks-to-bricks divide is in retailers’ heads more so than their consumers. To get a firm handle on your consumers’ paths to purchase, you need data (preferably in real-time), and a means to mine it in order to glean insights on your most valuable customer segments. Plenty of options exist for all business types and sizes (check out Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools for a comprehensive ranking). Just be sure to get buy-in from the C-suite in your organization, as breaking down a channel-focused organizational mindset can take some commitment and time.

2. Consumers want their shopping experience to be fast and worry-free

Typical consumers are spending even more time on their mobile devices—on average, nearly three hours per day (two hours and 25 minutes in-app, and 26 minutes in a mobile browser). And, while reports suggest that seven in 10 mCommerce app users in the U.S. access the apps to receive deals and offers, they’re also multitasking on their digital devices with increasing frequency. This means that eCommerce retailers must compress their digital engagement down into the quickest and most productive windows of interaction as possible.

In 2018: Facilitate lightning-fast checkout experiences, using single sign-on technology to help identify shoppers and their interests, previous purchases, and more across the various sites they visit along their shopping journey. Alternatively, follow this Forrester Analyst’s advice and enlist auto-fill and geo-mapping APIs to suggest a completed address as the user types it into their online shopping cart.

3. Consumers (still) want personalization, but balanced with better data security

We’re living in the age of the empowered consumer, where technology has liberated shoppers’ buying habits and shifted control into the hands of the masses (vs. the marketers). That’s good news for the disruptors who caught on early to the call for personalization—with some brands experiencing revenue increases of 6–10%, according to research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group. Yet, even as consumers demand increased personalization from their retail experiences—and are willing to provide more personal information with which to fine-tune their buyer journey—it’s coming at a cost to their personal data security. On average, each security breach is estimated to cost a business about $3.6 million. From a practical perspective, data insecurity has already hit the retail industry hard, and there’s no sign of it letting up anytime soon. In 2017 alone, we learned of the theft or compromise of millions of data records from the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers and Whole Foods. And before them, major retailers like Target, Taobao, CVS and Walmart were on the hook for billions of dollars in lost revenue, consumer trust and reputational harm.

In 2018: Safeguard your user data—and in the process, the valued relationships you’ve built with your customers—from leaks, breaches, and all-out attacks. At the most basic level, you can improve your organization’s security standards by addressing basic security and risk-related issues, implementing internal network segmentation, backups and system hardening. If in doubt, consider seeking out third-party help that’s equipped with the technological infrastructure and know-how to protect your consumers and your business.

Set your sights on a prosperous (and personalized) 2018

As technological innovation continues to change the face of the grocery eCommerce business year over year, the time’s never been more ripe for retailers like you to step up and meet consumers on their own playing field. All it takes is a commitment to delivering personalized, safe and secure omnichannel shopping experiences that fit their unique preferences, and that’ll have them coming back time and again to your eCommerce stores.

Learn how to build more engaging eCommerce experiences – get your free copy of “A Beginner’s Guide to Personalization: The Differentiating Factor in Grocery eCommerce' today. 

Articles and resources by the Mercatus team to help guide you on your eCommerce journey.

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