The Digital Future of Retail


Like most industries, the future of retail has become more and more digital over the past few years. With the introduction of new technologies, the entire ecosystem of retail has begun changing rapidly. We can expect that as technology evolves, it will change even more drastically. The scale, scope, and speed of digital retail are massive. 

Digital evolution has quickly spread across the globe, affecting retailers in every location. It has become so prevalent that a new retail ecosystem is developing, with a different economic model. Everything, from the way customers shop to the way marketers advertise, is changing.

Customer Trends

Customers are shopping differently, looking for fast, simple, and accessible services and products. With the rise of services like Amazon, Postmates, UberEats, and other delivery providers, consumers want immediate gratification. Why wait three weeks when another company can deliver something in two days? Studies have shown that nearly ninety percent of shoppers are willing to pay more for faster shipping. 

Part of providing customers with more immediate options involves utilizing e-commerce solutions. Retailers have to have online shopping options to stay competitive. The majority of consumers want or need the option of shopping online.

The pandemic has only sped up the already growing adoption of e-commerce. Thirty-five percent of grocery shoppers said they would not return to traditional shopping after COVID-19 has died down. Digital shopping is safer for consumers and employees, allowing them to buy what they want without endangering themselves or others. 

There are several different options for online shopping. The most common types are order ahead, home delivery, and curbside pick-up. A store’s ability to provide one or more of these choices depends on its resources and capabilities. However, retailers should provide at least one online option for customers to keep them satisfied. 

Digital Marketing

Marketing has also changed dramatically with the rise of everyday technology. According to eMarketer, in 2018, $114 billion was spent on traditional marketing, while $108 billion was spent on digital marketing. In 2019, traditional shrunk to $109 billion while digital rose to $129 billion. Those trends are expected to continue. Ninety percent of B2C businesses report that social media is the most effective way to market their content. Consumers are spending more and more of their time online, meaning that to reach them, marketers need to go digital, too. 

When one business finds an effective marketing strategy, other companies will begin to implement it as well. Digital marketing has become so powerful that companies have to utilize it to stay relevant. While traditional marketing can still be useful, digital marketing is essential for real growth and progress. 

Additionally, digital marketing provides one of the most vital tools for technology-savvy businesses: data. Advertisers can see how much engagement came from their content, who is interacting with it, and the number of conversions their content created. With insight into the effectiveness of their marketing, businesses can adjust and redirect to make it as potent as possible. 

Retail Operations

The way retailers operate is shifting, too. As the customer changes, so must the retailer. Stores are implementing digital tools to manage inventory and employees, run their stores, and communicate with customers. The more efficient automated inventory management becomes, the fewer work managers and employees have to do. Workers have more time to give to customers, and proprietors can trust that human error is reduced or eliminated. 

Point-of-sale systems have been around for a while now, but as they become more effective, they allow stores to become more profitable. A good POS system functions as the heart of a store. It manages inventory, employees, reporting, and transactions, among other things. With the right POS, retailers can increase their employee’s productivity, their customers’ satisfaction, and their store’s profits. As these systems evolve, they become more effective, increasing the benefits for store owners even more. 

Communication with customers is critical for store owners. There are several different ways that technology improves brand-to-customer relationships. With email and text notifications, customers are notified of sales and offer immediately. Additionally, these messages can address the specific customer’s rewards or benefits through a membership program. Digital marketing, as mentioned above, has become vital for advertisers, as they can reach consumers more directly.




Key Takeaways

  • The evolution of technology is rapidly changing the landscape of the retail industry.
  • Customers are looking for a fast, accessible, and digital shopping experience.
  • Digital marketing is becoming the most effective method of advertising for many retailers. 
  • Technology is allowing stores to operate more efficiently. 

As technology becomes more involved in every aspect of the retail industry, the environment will continue to become more digital. Consumers and store owners alike are embracing the benefits of digital shopping, marketing, and operating. Retailers have to stay up-to-date on digital trends to remain successful, keep a competitive edge, and maintain customer satisfaction.