Has technology changed shopping forever?

Technology and the internet have already drastically changed the shopping industry, but what does the future hold? Research has shown that between the years 2015 and 2017, there was an 85% increase in search for footwear reviews — showing that buyers want to learn more before they buy.

Together with Frank Wright, a British footwear brand that offers high-quality leather shoes, we take a look at how technology has changed shopping over the years and what retailers are doing about it.

Changing pre-purchase habits

When shopping online, Google has revealed that we are becoming more specific with our search terms. Rising search terms between 2015 and 2017 included ‘kids light up shoes’ and ‘men’s Italian dress shoes’. This is possibly because we often know precisely what product we desire and are confident that our search will yield relevant results due to the vast amount of available information on the internet.

Instead of window shopping ahead of a purchase, people are heading online for ideas. Social media was the first choice when respondents were asked where they get online inspiration from for their purchases. This behaviour has paved the way for social media influencers and celebrity endorsements too. In fact, the search term ‘influencer marketing’ experienced a 325% increase in searches between 2016 and 2017 — demonstrating company and agency interest in the new technique.

Although consumers can now follow a simpler purchasing process — by visiting a website and buying with a click of a button — the customer now can interact with a retailer in an increased number of ways. This potential user-to-business engagement allows an individual to connect more with a brand, through social media contact and additional communication channels (such as live chat and 24/7 phone lines).

Less ‘try before you buy’?

Although visits to physical stores were once falling, weekly bricks-and-mortar shoppers are up from 40% in 2015 to 44% in 2018. This could be due to people using shopping as a social activity.

What new opportunities does this bring to retailers? Retailers with physical stores have the chance to reduce their stock levels on-site and use the newfound space to create a more enjoyable, sensory experience for shoppers.

More people are picking up their phones to make their purchases too. In fact, statistics show that mobile commerce more than doubled between 2013 and 2018, rising from 7% to 17%. It’s looking likely that mobile shopping sales will soon surpass PC-based buying, which is currently at 20%.

The increase in mobile commerce suggests that less people are trying before they buy, as they would in a store. The delivery and returns process has been made so easy by many retailers in order to encourage customers to order their products first and then try them at home. Customers are getting used to the convenient delivery service too. In fact, 25% of customers said that they wouldn’t continue with their orders if one-day delivery wasn’t available.

What does the future hold?

It appears technology truly has changed shopping forever, with a wider availability of products than ever before, alongside quick service. We’ve seen the demise of some high street stores as they struggle to keep up with the requirements of consumers of the digital age. So, what does the future look like for the shopping industry?

It’s possible that we could receive products even quicker than we are already. There is discussion from some online retailers of a 30-minute drone delivery — almost 40% of customers would consider this as a method too! We can also expect to see more engaging stores as companies try to encourage more store visits.

It’s likely that influencer marketing will remain popular, and perhaps grow further with the widespread use of social media. But, due to the rapid speed of technological advancements, it’s hard to predict exactly what’s around the corner.