After a rapid year of change in 2013 in the retail and technology arena, what can we expect in 2014?
2014 will be the year where small businesses will have to level up and fight the goliaths that are the big box and online retailers. Online vs. Offline will see a higher level of competition, as the stakes will be greater. In addition there are changes on the marketing front that small business owners need to be aware of. Read on to find out what weâ€™ve learned and whatâ€™s in store for the New Year.
1. Merchants will focus on delivering the best user experience
2014 will see consumers move to retailers who provide a smooth and pleasant experience for their customers. Mobile apps of particular companies continue to add features that create more personalization. For example, Dominoâ€™s released an app that allows customers to save their favorite food items and coupons and in addition track pizza delivery. This has saved me more than once when I was too lazy to go to the trouble of figuring out what toppings I wanted or deciding on the thickness of my crust. I simply chose the pizza I had last time. Done.
2. The mobile wallet will demand innovation and value to grow
In 2013, the smartphone user base grew to over 50% of the mobile handset market in line with previous predictions. But mobile wallet systems have failed to take off. Why? The number of players in the field and the rapidly evolving technology is making consumers as well as retailers hesitant to invest time and money into any particular system.
But weâ€™re putting our money on the mobile payment tools that continue to innovate and provide value above and beyond the payment. Take for instance PayPal, who implemented an order ahead feature (working with eat24, an online platform for food delivery from your favorite restaurant) that decreases wait time for customers. Itâ€™s all about value creation and making the user experience a streamlined, hassle-free and fun experience. And on a not-so-side note, I actually used this feature recently while out with friends, and must say it is pretty nifty.
3. Mobile commerce will see growth in 2014
As retailers come face to face with quick shipping and competitive pricing from online stores, it will become super important to face these challenges. It will be a decisive year for small retailers.
Ever checked product reviews on your smartphone while deciding to purchase something in store? Youâ€™re not alone. In a recent survey, 66 percent of respondents reported using their smart phones in stores to compare prices, search for deals, check with family and friends about their choices, and read product details and reviews.
Some have reported making purchases from cheaper online merchants right there in the store. Yes, it kind of leaves a bitter taste when a customer walks in, checks out the product, price shops and walks out. Thatâ€™s why itâ€™s time to step it up.
In 2014, retailers will have to battle this by bringing out their own improvements and invest in mobile apps that wow customers, create loyalty and allow leveraging technology to increase sales. One example of leveraging technology is knowing what product your customer checked out but didnâ€™t buy while in the store, and enticing them to complete the purchase with a deal emailed to them or pushed to the app. This is just one of several features that ShoppinPal provides.
4. Data driven marketing will be a key strategy for local businesses
A study that was just released by the Direct Marketing Association found that data driven marketing was the way for local businesses to compete effectively. Their findings were that small businesses and innovation were the biggest winners in the data driven marketing economy. DDMI Executive Director Rachel Nyswander Thomas stated, â€œData also gives small businesses a leg up in matching of products to customers. Data-intensive market insights are now more accessible to mid- and smaller-size enterprises than ever before” With this new information companies are quickly getting on board with local marketing campaigns and small business may finally get the edge on their larger competitors in 2014.