Rakuten expects global retail trends in 2014. If you haven’t heard of Rakuten, you should change that.
It’s a big e-commerce company in Japan with global ambitions. It describes itself as «the world’s third largest e-commerce marketplace,» presumably after Alibaba and eBay.
Over the past year or so, Rakuten has made an effort to break into the US. It invested $100 million in Pinterest, and it launched a US-focused site called Rakuten Shopping.
The CMO and COO of that property, Bernard Luthi, put together a list of predictions for global retail in 2014.
Retailers are will try to entertain you to get your business. Luthi writes, «The lines between entertainment and shopping are blurring further and 2014 will see more retailers offer shoppers a richer, content-led shopping experience. Driven by the media, which have become retailers in their own right to bolster dwindling revenues from advertising and subscriptions, savvy retailers are using multimedia content to make the shopping experience more engaging. Retailers recognize that shoppers are no longer satisfied by the vending machine model of the last decade; they want to be entertained and informed as they browse the web and make purchasing decisions.»
Retailers are going to stock what people are tweeting about or pinning on Pinterest. Luthi: «Social media’s power to influence what people buy is widely recognized and in 2014 it will also influence what retailers sell. The rapid growth of social curation communities like Pinterest, where consumers curate their own collections of products that they like, offers retailers access to invaluable insights in near real-time, something that traditional market research simply cannot compete with. Savvy retailers will use social shopping communities as a temperature check for popular product trends and use this insight to inform and refine stocking decisions accordingly.»
Retailers will have to unify their mobile, desktop, and tablet experiences – tracking shoppers as they move from platform to platform across the day. Luthi says, «Retailers understand that shoppers often interact with them through multiple channels, but what actually happens along this journey can be a mystery. In any given day a shopper could interact with a brand on multiple devices and through multiple platforms, from mobile browsing in the morning, to lunchtime shopping on a work laptop or liking a product in a social news feed later in the day. In 2014, a top priority for retailers will be to join up the dots between these channels so that a more comprehensive customer profile can be developed. Insight garnered by analyzing the purchase journey of shoppers will help retailers to streamline the channels through which they sell and personalize the shopping experience, helping to boost their bottom line.»
Offline stores are going to starting pinging your phone when you walk in. Luthi writes, «The long-held dream of being able to target shoppers in real-time, with relevant and personalized, location-based offers took a big step forward in 2013 with Apple’s launch of iBeacon, which allows precise, low-cost indoor tracking in stores. There has been much excitement about the prospect of hyper-targeting shoppers on the go and in 2014 retailers will begin to take this proposition more seriously. We expect to see a number of high profile trials of hyper-targeting technology as retailers grapple to deliver the highly personalized experience that shoppers now expect online and in their brick and mortar stores.»
Retailers are going to offer more customizable products like engraving on gadgets. Luthi: «Consumers today don’t just want run-of-the-mill products, they want something that’s unique and reflects their personality. Retailers understand this and we are seeing more companies offer personalized products, from custom engravings to the ability to select bag zip or pocket colour in advance. As this trend gathers pace in 2014, there is a huge opportunity for small to medium enterprises to carve out a market niche against bigger retailers, while adding value to existing products through customization. Furthermore, the concept of customization should extend beyond the product itself; retailers need to look at how they can offer a more customized shopping experiences online by using insights gathered in customer profiles.»