The pandemic has fast-tracked eCommerce adoption, merging digital and physical experiences and altering customer expectations for speed, convenience, and personalization. This change is disruptive but offers new opportunities for retail and restaurant industries. Square partnered with Wakefield Research to survey consumers and business owners for key eCommerce trends. To adapt and thrive in the evolving market, see Square’s 2023 Future of Commerce report.
- Digital sales channels drive business
Capturing the 79% of consumers who make purchases via mobile devices is critical. With an average 22% of total purchases made while scrolling, businesses should emphasize their digital presence. Retailers now operate across an average of four sales channels, and over 80% plan to expand their digital channels in the next year. Utilizing mobile commerce tools to optimize a shoppable, mobile-friendly site is essential.
- Customer engagement happens across channels
Consumers now buy an average of four products monthly from social media, a trend growing by 10% annually. Also, 19% prefer purchasing via text or chat, a slight but notable increase from 2021. These channels are altering consumer-business interactions, signaling the rise of conversational and mobile commerce. Businesses should, therefore, integrate social and text into their omnichannel strategies for consistency. Tools like Square Text Message Marketing and social commerce can facilitate this integration, enhancing exposure and sales.
- Retailers understand the importance of omnichannel commerce
As businesses strive to engage consumers through new technology and sales channels, 96% of retailers find it challenging to manage these channels. Key difficulties include identifying suitable channels, ensuring information consistency, and determining meaningful engagement metrics. An integrated centralized hub, like an online store or point-of-sale system, can facilitate cross-channel sales, inventory tracking, and communication management. Despite initial costs, such digital systems effectively engage customers according to their preferences.
- Technology is enhancing the in-store experience
While online channels boost sales, brick-and-mortar stores are also enhancing shopper experiences through hybrid digital-physical strategies. Seventy percent of retailers are integrating new digital tools, such as mobile checkout, VR/AR, and QR codes. Fifty-eight percent of consumers are open to such innovative shopping methods, with specific interest in VR shopping and QR code window shopping. Despite the relaxation of in-person shopping restrictions, eCommerce still represented 30% of all purchases in 2022. Currently, online sales make up 43% of retailers’ revenue and over 40% of restaurants’. As 23% of consumers won’t support businesses lacking online options, maintaining a robust digital presence remains crucial.
- Delivery options are key
Options matter to consumers, with 21% insisting on the Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) feature, which can also increase in-store sales. Similarly, over 60% of restaurants offer delivery services, either directly or via third parties. As 68% of customers prefer ordering directly from restaurants, promoting self-managed delivery could boost profit margins.
- Personalization helps retailers stand out
Personalization drives repeat business by making customers feel valued. Accordingly, it’s becoming vital in omnichannel strategies. Forty-one percent of stores are distinguishing themselves with unique products or custom orders, 37% are employing faster communication tools like chatbots, and 35% are improving digital experiences with personalized technology, like order screens that welcome returning visitors by name.
- Loyalty programs encourage sales
Rewarding repeat business through loyalty programs improves in-store customer experience for 38% of retailers. Though seen as essential by 41% of Boomers, 39% of Gen X, and 37% of Millennials, only 27% of Gen Z agree, suggesting future generational shifts towards other promotions. Regardless, loyalty programs boost sales, with 83% of customers favoring brands that offer them. Tools like Square Loyalty, which allow easy signup during purchase, can help in implementing such programs.
- eCommerce is expected to grow
Technology is making entrepreneurship more accessible, with 62% agreeing that modern tools simplify starting a business, as evident in the over 400,000 Americans who applied for new business licenses in November 2022. Notably, 46% of Gen Z and Millennials are considering starting businesses now, with a 50% preference for beginning online versus 36% favoring physical locations and 13% opting for mobile stores. This strong inclination towards online ventures underscores eCommerce’s enduring significance.
- Businesses should expect more change
Incorporating digital tools into physical stores invites innovation for both retailers and restaurateurs. By embracing trends and customizing them, businesses can engage customers innovatively. Those willing to adapt to the evolving marketplace stand the best chance of thriving.
Dig into Square’s full 2023 Future of Commerce report