In the last two years, the retail industry has had to face the brunt of the pandemic’s impact on society. In the first half of this year alone, over 8700 stores closed down. With lockdown restrictions having eased up, some might have expected a strong recovery in the sector, however, retail sales volumes fell by 0.9% in August, following a 2.8% fall in July. It is therefore no surprise then that we’re seeing bricks and mortar retailers try to get a slice of e-Commerce cake that is proving bountiful for many!
To add some context, e-Commerce retail is more popular in the UK than in any other major territory. Consumer e-Commerce now accounts for over 36% of the total retail market in the UK (up from 20% in 2019) with just over £2 billion spent weekly in the UK online retail market.
e-Commerce has enabled the extension of the retail industry from the high street store to the palm of the consumer’s hand and in their phone. That isn’t to say it’s always been a perfect science and it’s taken time for the symbiotic relationship to flourish, so what has technology’s role been in this boom in e-Commerce?
The trends making a change
With the greater emergence of retail technology and e-Commerce tech comes the need to keep up with the latest trends in the industry and falling short can be the difference between a standout customer experience and a dud. Luxuries like a high-quality app have quickly become standard practice and a necessity for retailers if they want to compete against the giants of Amazon, ASOS and the like.
Nowadays you need more than just a killer app to hold onto your customers, the intricacies of the app are now under scrutiny like never before. Let’s look at a few of the key aspects of an e-Commerce offering & app that are taking the industry by storm at the moment.
- eWallet technology – apps and built-in systems like Apple & Google Pay, Venmo and many others have digitised wallets and are quickly rendering plastic cards unnecessary. eWallet tech has advanced the already seamless contactless process but work is still being undertaken to evolve this…more on this shortly.
- Augmented and virtual reality – AR & VR are making online shopping interactive by bringing the shop floor into the headsets and homes of millions. The growing Metaverse is also showing a lot of promise in how it plans to help digitise the retail experience with tech retailers such as Samsung already making headway.
- Social media – The modern customer is only ever a few seconds away from checking their socials, be it Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, retailers are working on creating an active and more unique online persona for themselves on these sites and it’s helping to connect with their customers on a personal level.
- Reinventing the customer experience – with the greater implementation of technology into the e-Commerce and retail space, it’s opened up a whole array of options for customising the consumer experience. In-app data means that retailers can tailor experiences and offers to specific customers’ wants and needs. Additionally, apps have found ways to gamify the experience of shopping which can see a rise of customer attention by 5% which in turn helps generate a 25%-95% increase in profit (something retailers desperately need following the impact of Omicron).
Swapi; An example of modern e-Commerce in action
We mentioned earlier how eWallet tech is improving the consumer experience for the modern customer. At PHA we’re working with a number of quality retail brands and e-Commerce game-changers, none more so than Swapi.
The UK currently holds £6 billion in unspent loyalty, £47 per person, and so Swapi is hoping to revolutionise the way that the British consumer accrues and spends their loyalty points with the help of technology.
Swapi is the latest evolution of the British consumers’ loyalty wallet, which allows users to link all their loyalty cards from their favourite retailers in one easy-to-use app. The app utilizes those trends and innovative tech bolt-ons mentioned above to provide the user with a truly unique app experience. The app takes advantage of user data to offer featured discounts and offers depending on interest and loyalty cards onboard the app.
Since launching in mid-December the app has seen roughly 3,500- 4000 users join the app, thanks to both the exciting proposition that the app offers but also due to the ease of onboarding onto the apps. Simply scanning your bank and loyalty cards saves them onto the app and means you can pay through the app going forward.
Swapi is just one example of e-Commerce taking one crucial aspect of the customer journey and intertwining it with technology to the benefit of both parties.
Are you a tech brand in the e-Commerce space looking to gain exposure via UK media? Get in touch today.