Are You Building the Store of the Future?

By: Jason Nyhus

Jason Nyhus is vice president of marketing strategy and demand generation.

A generation ago, few people could have imagined visiting an e-commerce site that allowed customers to buy virtually any product instantly and have it shipped to their door within a day. Few foresaw the e-commerce functions that are now commonplace, including features that allow shoppers to instantly access product information and conduct transactions in multiple languages, currencies and payment types.

What will the store of tomorrow look like? No one knows for sure. But during a webinar, I explored the idea with my colleague James Gagliardi, vice president of product innovation at Digital River.

Rewriting the rules: As innovators of the past and present have showed us, the store of the future’s genius might be in rewriting the rules rather than inventing a brand-new platform or product. When you think about ways to innovate in your e-commerce business, remember that adding a new feature doesn’t always make a site, app or product better. Consumers are looking for innovations that make it easier and faster to access and enjoy products. For example, you could change the rulebook for electronics shoppers by giving them the option of leasing – instead of purchasing – the latest hardware when they renew their next software subscription.

From E-commerce to ME-commerce: Personalization is another area that continues to evolve – and we believe will remain a major driver in shaping the store of the future. Today, when your customers shop, they expect you to remember them and tailor recommendations based on their past purchases. In the store of the future, we expect personalization to manifest itself in new and even more surprising ways. Think about a store that gives customers the option to use new 3D printing and 3D modeling capabilities to create unique products in any size, shape or color. Depending on how 3D printing evolves in the consumer and broader commercial markets, it might soon become possible for your customers to select products, specify options and then print products themselves, or pick them up at a nearby store or have them shipped to their homes. We are starting to see signs of this today, but imagine the marketplace of user generated content and licensing available in the future around 3D printed content.

E-Commerce everywhere: While we can only imagine how tomorrow’s online store will work, we can be certain that it is going to take e-commerce beyond the typical purchase processes and places where we shop today. Imagine standing in front of a 10 foot monitor looking at a Wall of Commerce that allows you to touch, scroll, browse and interact with thousands of products; make purchases with your mobile phone; and then get instant pickup at a brick-and-mortar store in your neighborhood. And if you want to get advice about using your new product, why not connect with other users through crowd-sourced chat support. The scenario is certainly interesting and entirely possible with the technology that is in place today.

Shoppertainment: How your customers shop could change as dramatically as where they shop. As shopping and entertainment continue to converge, it creates all kinds of new possibilities for the store of the future. This fusion can result in a virtual store that allows your customers to shop and make purchases from within their favorite TV shows and movies – and do all this while they watch. This “shoppertainment” model might use facial recognition and motion sensor technology to let customers browse a virtual store and experience products and interactions in 3D without ever leaving their sofa, and making buying truly seamless.

While no one knows exactly what the store of the future will look like, we can expect emerging trends to have a profound impact on shopping in the years to come.

What do you want from a store of the future? Please share your vision and ideas in the comments field below.

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