Key takeaways

  • The growth of e-commerce will continue to surge, with online shopping expenditure to reach $30 billion by 2016
  • Leading retailers will focus their strategies on delivering a truly consumer adaptive experience
  • While ‘showrooming’ presents a challenge, retailers should develop and utilise mobile interactions that offer consumers an engaging in-store shopping experience

As the curtain closes on a momentous year, there can be no doubt that online shopping has been the shining star of retail in 2012.

E-commerce continued to gain momentum with online shopping expenditure expected to reach $16 billion by the end of this year. According to our report, The Future of Retail – Consumer Adaptive Retailing, the usage and penetration of mobile devices increased, with 62% of Australians aged between 15 and 65 owning a smartphone, with over a third shopping online while on the move.

The emergence of near field communication (NFC) along with a growing number of mobile payment applications has meant shoppers are increasingly comfortable with paying for purchases with their mobile devices at the point-of-sale. The release of applications such as Google Wallet and Apple’s Passbook have driven consumer confidence in using mobile devices as a payment tool.

All the while, the rise of QR codes, augmented reality, gamification, interactive apps and geo-location tools have given retailers powerful ammunition to help bring retail to life.

Not surprisingly, digital technologies will remain at the heart of many of the retail trends we expect to see more of throughout 2013.

Online retail to surge

By 2016, online shopping expenditure in Australia is predicted to almost double this year’s figures to reach $30 billion. Inevitably, e-commerce will grow exponentially in 2013, with more consumers shopping online from home, at work and while on the go. In fact, according to the Australian & New Zealand Online Shopping Market Insights report, consumers continue to cite lower prices, convenience, range and ease as most enticing reasons for shopping online. This is a clear signal for retailers that it is never too late to refine the basics of e-commerce such as having an easy-to-navigate website, unique products, intuitive customer service and flexible shopping options, to name a few.

Anytime, anywhere retail

The days when retailers that focused on a multichannel approach for their retail offering were perceived as the industry catalysts, are long gone. In the current climate, those retailers without a multichannel offering stand out as the laggards.

Digital-savvy, multiple device-doting consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on the technology that surrounds them and have come to expect a single-screen, store and shopping experiences across all channels and touch points. Today’s consumers are sophisticated, empowered, informed and are not prepared to wait around for straggling retailers and brands who aren’t delivering that smooth technology-enabled experience.

Over the next year, leading retailers will strive to go beyond merely connecting those channels. Retail strategies should focus on the convergence of various channels and customer touchpoints to enable a seamless and congruent experience – whether online, in-store, on a mobile device, tablet or anywhere else.

UK-based retailer John Lewis – praised by many as a shining example of a multichannel leader – are showing that a convenient and simultaneous shopping experience can be achieved by offering cross-channel delivery options, ‘click and collect’ or ‘click and pick’ services, while also allowing consumers interact with it online through mobiles, tablets and kiosks, while shopping in-store.

Showrooming: Challenge or opportunity?

Smartphones and tablets will continue to distort the lines between shopping off and online, as price-conscious consumers turn to their mobile devices to search for better deals, even while shopping in-store. The effect, dubbed, as ‘showrooming’ will remain a significant challenge for retailers over the next 12 months.

While attempts to control it may very well be futile, retailers have the opportunity to embrace the trend by using a bit of creativity to offer consumers an interactive and engaging shopping experience.

If retailers are aware that customers are using their mobile devices to compare products elsewhere, why not seek to leverage these interactions? For example, US retail giant Walmart give customers even more reason to use mobile devices while shopping in-store. Walmart customers are encouraged to use the retailer’s location-aware app to access interactive weekly specials, discover new products, scan bar codes for prices and even flip between the physical and online versions of the store in a single tap.

Check back for the second part of this article, where we discuss the use of Big Data and SoLoMo and how these will influence the 2013 retail landscape.



John Riccio

John is PwC’s Global Design & Deploy, Experience Consulting partner.

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