It’s estimated that thirty-three thousand gathered in New York City in early 2015 for the National Retail Federation (NRF) “Big Show” annual conference. According to Retail Week, NRF is seen “as the most important look at retail technology anywhere in the world, and the international nature of the crowd shows how today’s technology evolution is a global one.”

In all the flurry of activities, panels, and along the trade show floor, a few key trends stood out for retail in 2015.

Retailers seek to understand how best to meet the changing expectations driven by online shoppers, while retaining and boosting footfall traffic. Data is at the center once again, enabling retailers to dig deep into customer preferences and behaviors to anticipate their needs and desires. This is especially key to closing the online-offline gap in their multichannel operations.

“The ability to use data and predict patterns of behavior is advancing at a rapid rate and will go a long way in determining who wins the competition for consumer dollars,” RetailWire reported from NFC. They learned retailers were not only utilizing their own data collected internally, but looked outside to product suppliers and third-party vendors to gain insight on the customer journey and to create personas.

Retailers also got an opportunity to view eBay’s smart dressing room technology, a story that emerged in late 2014. Currently being trialled by Nordstrom, it allows customers to have that selection of sizes and colors from a tablet while they’re trying on clothes, versus having make inconvenient trips back out to the showroom floor. For eBay, they see this new innovation as just the start, with an interactive mall directory in the works, further supporting the online-meets-offline multichannel movement.

PayPal, soon to break off from eBay, relayed the growing trend towards mobile payments, expecting customers to drive usage statistics to 33.9% of all ecommerce sales in 2015. At the same time, payments will experience many changes this year in nearly every country and channel.

Their Big Show announcement was the introduction of PayPal Credit, which aims to “collaborate with merchants and industry partners to create better and secure experiences for people online, in-store and on mobile devices.”

The goal of PayPal’s new credit service is to reduce shopping cart abandonment, a common challenge for online retail, while also driving sales and increasing Average Order Value (AOV). This will help to tackle payment confusion, providing a streamlined approach for online shoppers.

RetailWire also weighed in on shopping cart abandonment at the NRF Big Show, seeing it as a nebulous statistic as more consumers research and comparison shop online, but eventually make an in-store purchase based on their online shopping activities.

Reporting on their attendance of the session, "The New Digital Divide," presented by Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution leader at Deloitte, “‘digital should no longer be a separate part of retail’ but also that customers should be measured ‘across the entire journey’ rather than with a particular emphasis on one part or another.”

During the session Paul also believes retail needs to shift their mindset and how it approaches the measurement, organization and investment in both online and physical.

Customer’s shopping habits, behaviors, and expectations have been changing and evolving over the years. As this continues, more pressure is on retailers to change their operations. To offer a better buying experience. To meet those expectations through a multichannel offering that complements each channel.

For major retailers who’ve invested millions in their legacy systems, this makes for a significant challenge and expense. For small to medium-sized retailers with more agility and the ability to react quicker with less operational impact and expense, they’re at a definite advantage.

Learn more about ways to drive your sales and enhance the customer experience in 2015 in our white paper, “5 Strategies for Attracting More Shoppers to Your Online Web Store.

In a short read you’ll learn:

  • The power of data collection and analysis to better understand your business’ online activity, and how to use it to increase sales.
  • How to expand your sales reach to online marketplaces while preserving your web store’s strength.
  • The importance of fine-tuning your product listings.
  • How to create captivating product photos to capture shoppers’ interest.
  • Why abandoned shopping carts offer new re-marketing opportunities.

If you have other strategies which work (or have failed) let us know in the comments section below. 


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About the Author

Kim Owens is a veteran digital marketer and copywriter for Brightpearl, creating engaging, customer-centric content that provides value and an opportunity to learn about the quickly evolving retail industry.