Discover the eCommerce consumption trends of Canadians to watch in 2024. Download the report

21 Dec 2023

The future of retail

The future of retail

Retail, both online and in-store, is undergoing a real transformation and benefiting from technological advances. As a firm specializing in eCommerce, Novatize remains at the forefront of these changes to bring you the trends to watch and to anticipate the future of retail. In this article, we’ll explore 6 crucial points that will help you evolve your business to meet your customers’ new expectations. 

To find out more about the trends affecting all aspects of eCommerce, take a look at the 10 eCommerce trends to watch for 2024.

1. The hyper-personalized shopping experience

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies are transforming retail by delivering hyper-personalized shopping experiences. Using product recommendations based on past shopping behavior to AI-powered chatbots, retailers are redefining the way they interact with customers online. The advantage is to present the most interesting content to the target, via the most appropriate channel, and at the most opportune time in order to close the sale. Hyper-personalization is often applied in the context of loyalty and other programs. 

According to a study produced by Novatize in collaboration with Leger, 35% of Canadians have already used shopping recommendations and tips based on their purchasing behavior and profile, and 45% say they are inclined to do so in the future. This demonstrates that consumers expect personalized experiences.


2. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to reduce purchasing barriers

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are emerging technologies that are already having a significant impact on consumers’ shopping experience. In eCommerce and immersive marketing, these technologies are used to help shoppers visualize products in greater detail and make informed purchasing decisions. In-store and online, augmented reality is revolutionizing the shopping experience by enabling customers to virtually try on products such as clothing, furniture or accessories before making a purchase. This technology creates a closer connection between the consumer and the product.

These innovations have the potential to dramatically improve the shopping experience and even introduce new modes of consumption. Augmented reality (AR) is positioned as one of the major eCommerce trends of 2024, enabling users to superimpose digital information on the real world. As for virtual reality (VR), it is set to play a leading role in online stores and Web shopping experiences.

Many retailers are already experimenting with virtual and augmented reality applications, offering customers the chance to preview a product before making a purchase. According to Shopify, interaction with products in 3D or AR can generate a conversion rate up to 94% higher than static presentations.

To learn more about the applications of augmented and virtual reality in eCommerce, we invite you to watch this video clip [French only].

3. Contactless payment and blockchain

Contactless payments have become commonplace in the retail landscape, offering a fast and secure alternative to traditional payment methods. From contactless credit cards to mobile wallets, consumers are looking for faster, more convenient ways to finalize their transactions.

At the same time, blockchain technology brings a layer of transparency and security to financial transactions. Imagine a consumer making an online purchase. With blockchain, every stage of the transaction is securely recorded, reducing the risk of fraud and ensuring total traceability of the purchasing process.

A concrete example of the application of blockchain in retail is the guarantee of product authenticity. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the provenance of the items they buy. By using blockchain, retailers can create immutable records that certify the origin, history and quality of products, boosting customer confidence.

As for contactless payments, mobile applications now include direct payment functionalities from cell phones. For example, users can link their credit cards to mobile payment applications, enabling them to simply bring their phone close to a payment terminal to complete a transaction without having to handle cash or physical cards.

These advances in contactless payment and the use of blockchain demonstrate the ongoing transformation of the financial and commercial landscape, offering consumers safer, faster and more transparent options for their everyday transactions.


4. Quick commerce and new delivery services

The focus is on speed of delivery, with retailers looking for ways to ship products faster than ever. Expectations are evolving towards ever shorter lead times, prompting merchants to adjust their delivery strategies, such as same-day delivery or the use of postal crates or even drones. 

Some specialized logistics services enable merchants to offer same-day delivery in major urban centers, responding to the need for greater speed. This approach is crucial for retailers seeking to remain competitive, especially in the food and beverage industry, as well as in fast-moving consumer goods. 

Postal lockers are growing in popularity, offering consumers a centralized solution for collecting and managing their online purchases. Available in major cities, residential complexes and trading partner networks, these eCommerce lockers play a key role in facilitating order collection. Some are even designed to store large products, such as furniture from companies like IKEA, or to maintain specific conditions, for example, for products that require controlled temperatures, like Cook it meals.

According to a study published by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail [French only], in particular contexts such as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, up to 94% of consumers will prefer to receive their order at home to avoid picking it up in store.

A notable trend in ultra-fast delivery is the acceleration of same-day delivery. Some market players are referring to the concept of Q-Commerce (Quick Commerce), aiming for deliveries in under an hour. This rapid evolution reflects the need for constant innovation to meet consumers’ growing expectations of fast, efficient delivery.

To see all the articles and top tips from Novatize experts for your eCommerce logistics strategy, visit this section of the Novatize blog.

5. Channel integration and unified commerce

Unified commerce is becoming a reality as retailers integrate their online and offline channels. Customers expect a seamless experience, whether they buy online or in-store. Retailers are adopting strategic approaches to harmonize these two worlds and deliver a consistent customer experience, whatever the touchpoint.

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The transition from one channel to the other is facilitated by unified management systems, enabling customers to start their purchasing journey online, continue it in-store and finalize their order via a mobile application, for example. This continuity strengthens customer loyalty and offers them the flexibility they are looking for in their purchasing journey.

Integrated loyalty programs transcend borders, enabling customers to collect and spend points both online and in-store. This encourages ongoing participation and strengthens customer engagement across multiple channels.

According to a study published by the Conseil québécois du commerce de détail [French only], shoppers in Quebec are more inclined to buy online for clothing, pharmaceuticals/beauty products and food. Retailers in these industries will need to be even more responsive to consumer expectations.

Physical stores are becoming extensions of the digital world, integrating technologies such as smart mirrors, interactive screens, smart labels and more. These devices are transforming the in-store shopping experience, enabling customers to access additional product information, view personalization options and even make online purchases directly from the store.

To understand the differences between omnichannel and unified commerce, read this article.

6. Intelligent stores

In stores, smart technologies can optimize inventory management, personalize the customer experience and much more.

IoT (Internet of Things) sensors are widely used to monitor stock levels in real time and prevent stock-outs. This automation enables retailers to maintain optimal stock levels, reducing losses associated with out-of-stock products.

Smart mirrors in fitting rooms are an emerging application of in-store interactive technologies. These mirrors enable customers to try on garments virtually, adjust colors and view additional styling options, enhancing the in-store shopping experience.

Video analysis is used to understand in-store customer behavior. Retailers can identify the busiest areas, the products that attract the most interest, and adapt shelf layouts accordingly to optimize product placement.

Contactless payment devices and mobile applications are integrated into smart stores to offer customers a smooth, fast payment experience. This reduces waiting times at checkouts, improving the efficiency of the purchasing process.

A concrete example of a smart store is the cashierless store concept, where item recognition and automatic payment technology simplify the shopping experience for customers. Amazon Go is a pioneer in this field, offering a frictionless shopping experience.

Retail is evolving rapidly thanks to the latest technological advances, and the next few years will be full of challenges. From personalized shopping experiences to channel integration and ultra-fast delivery, retailers will need to remain agile and embrace innovation to stay competitive and meet customer expectations. 

Ready to transform your business? Contact Novatize’s unified commerce experts today.



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