Top Ten  

Top 10 trends in the retail space in 2012

When international retail markets floundered e-commerce continued to display resilient growth. Rakuten attracted over three thousand new sellers and its marketplace grew to over $13 billion. The buoyancy of this sector is being fuelled by a flurry of technical innovations and over the next 12 months there are 10 key trends Rakuten expects to emerge
 Tablet commerce is set to increase hugely  Retailers will merge online and offline functions  Growth depends on specific, flexible shipping models

Written by Adam Stewart, Marketing Director, Rakuten's

10. Retailers will communicate with individual customer profiles

The old adage “information is power” takes on new impetus in 2012. This year data exchange between retailers and social networks will offer new insights into the psyche of the shopper. Using these emerging customer profiles retail marketing teams must translate this wealth of data into timely, personalised and relevant communications.


9. Flexible, local shipping models will be vital for customer loyalty

According to a report by Forrester in January 2011, shipping issues were one of the most common reasons for cart abandonment in Europe. As a result, market specific, flexible shipping models will be vital for growth. In the UK this is evidenced by the growing popularity of the click-and-collect phenomenon.


8. Borderless shopping communities will emerge

In the year ahead, international marketplace models will provide sellers of all sizes around the world with the opportunity to expand their operations internationally, without the cost intensive outlay traditionally associated with establishing local delivery models, storage facilities etc. Sellers will be able to dabble in international shopping communities and dedicate resources based on real world demand.


7. More people will take their social network shopping

Getting a second opinion before buying is nothing new, but now rather than taking a friend shoppers can take their entire social network with them. Retailers will use this not just for brand awareness, but for product development and customer service too. Rakuten’s ShopTogether enables marketplace users to invite friends to view products and live chat while looking at the product page.


6. An affiliate model will be devised for the High Street

Barcode scanning services such as ShopSavvy help users find the best deal online for a product they locate in store. This unsustainable system means that the physical store sees none of the benefit for its role in that purchase. To support the high street’s role in sale conversion a referral model, as exists online to offer a share in online sales they support, must be developed.


5. Retailers will merge online and offline functions

The boundaries between online and offline worlds are becoming increasingly blurred, as retailers fuse their digital and real-world offerings. In 2012 retailers will start to join-up online and offline thinking, replicating the value and offers from the online world in store and the rich product experience from the high street online. 


4. Tablet commerce will create a tactile online shopping experience

Bridging the divide between mobile and PC’s, tablets present an exciting opportunity for retailers as their rich functionality shifts the traditionally transactional and bargain hunting online experience into a virtual store experience. To capitalise on this retailers must optimise content for tablets and think as creatively about presentation as they would in store.


3. Online shopping will get more personal

The days when a consumer knew the name of their local butcher or flower vendor are probably past; however in 2012 we will see a resurgence of this personal service model. As consumers become jaded by a surfeit of online brand communications, those merchants that offer a more personalized service will lead the field for brand loyalty.


2. Smaller merchants will embrace mobile channels

 Often it’s the biggest brands that have the resources to invest in new technology. However in 2012, thanks to the rise of affiliate services and marketplaces like Rakuten, even small merchants will be able to harness the mobile channel without incurring heavy infrastructure costs. Affiliate sites like Groupon and Vouchercloud allow merchants to experiment with new consumer channels without implementing a dedicated mobile program. 


1. Mobile browsing will turn to buying

In 2011 web enabled mobile devices transformed e-commerce, opening up a new 24/7 channel to the consumer and creating innovative new ways to engage them, from QR codes to location based offers. While mobile sites have developed wonderful browsability, consumer uncertainty around mobile payments is hampering sales conversion. The industry is currently addressing this issue and over the next 18 months we will see the introduction of more secure and seamless mobile payment platforms, which will improve consumer confidence and drive mobile sales.

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