Takeaways from Shop.org 2016: Retail’s Digital Summit

By Kristin Gooch, Director, Product Marketing

Mobile, Millennials and Augmented Reality

Millennials are taking to mobile.If the Retail’s Digital Summit earlier this month is any indicator, future consumer experiences will be less like Back to Future or The Jetsons and more like Star Trek with indispensable hand-held devices, holodecks and young people to show us the way. But before you cue up Netflix, allow me to share three key takeaways from this year’s conference.

First, I’m excited to report that we can check mobile commerce off as having reached critical mass. Many presenters at Shop.org talked about how and why they are now designing for mobile first. Ulta and Sephora shared how content accessed via mobile is enhancing product discovery and exploration both in-store and at home. Deloitte’s 2016 New digital divide report shows that $0.56 of every dollar spent in a store is influenced by a digital interaction. And if that isn’t enough, JCPenney, a 100+ year old retailer, shared that more than 50% of traffic on their website is through a mobile device! As I’ve been walking brands through findings from RSR’s 2016 Digital Gifting Benchmark Study, I’ve been emphasizing the importance of being able to purchase, receive and store digital gift cards on mobile devices based on RSR’s perspective as well as the data that we are seeing across brands that power their digital gift card experience with the CashStar Commerce platform. It’s good to know everyone I’m talking to is seeing compelling data about mobile on their e-commerce sites as well!

Second, as I sat (actually stood) through a presentation about millennials delivered by millennials—Gabbi from OglivyOne and Hunter from PwC, it occurred to me that those whippersnappers aren’t so different after all. I actually want most of the things they want too, and I’m no millennial.

  • Consistency across channels — I’m doing more shopping on and with my phone lately—whether while sitting around waiting for my daughter’s soccer practice to end or while I’m in the store reading reviews about the toaster ovens I’m considering.
  • Content, not advertising — Speaking of reviews, those as well as photos and videos are really helpful in trying to figure out how to collapse the soccer net we just purchased or whether those sneakers my daughter wants will have enough ankle support.
  • Ability to buy stuff where you see stuff — For millennials, this seems to mean buy things you see in Facebook, Snapchat, etc. I’m less wed to those channels, but I am excited for the day when I can take a picture of that spraying water bottle my daughter’s friend has and poof—the UPS guy brings it to our doorstep a few days later.

My third takeaway is that after years of focus on making the online purchase experience faster and more efficient, retailers are finally turning their attention to making the purchase experience better.

  • Remember when stores had knowledgeable sales associates who would ask questions and direct you to products that would best meet your needs? Now conversational commerce and IBM’s Watson™ is replicating this same experience online. Try it by asking the personal shopper to help you find a new jacket at www.northface.com.
  • It’s so exciting to buy new technology, but the excitement often turns to frustration when the setup process begins. Buy from Enjoy and a personable technology enthusiast (not a geek squad guy) will hand deliver your purchase, set it up, and they won’t leave until your whole family knows about all the great features and how to use them.
  • Ever purchase a piece of furniture only to find out upon delivery that it doesn’t work in the space you envisioned for it? Wayfair lets you try the item in your space using their augmented reality app.
  • These consumer purchase experience innovations are exciting, and the possibilities they raise for future digital gift card purchase and recipient experiences are seemingly endless. Now, you can cue your favorite futuristic fantasy, or better yet go create your own.

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