Reports from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that in 2017, 90% of households in Great Britain had internet access, an increase from 89% in 2016 and 57% in 2006.
Fuelled by this increase in internet usage, social media has evolved from a vehicle for just simple social networking, to a host of online platforms which promote and facilitate the endorsement and purchase of products via e-commerce.
This incredible competition from the web, combined with recent news reports reflecting that retailers which disappear from the high street, unfortunately cease to remain “relevant” in the eyes of the consumer; means the pressure is now on for retailers to manipulate their supply chains, in order to satisfy the consumer as and when they require, to successfully remain validated and recognised; as a worth-while brand within their own rights, or otherwise meet their fate.
Relentless changes within technology and commerce, and digital marketing, are driving the behaviours of better-connected consumers, and in-turn fundamentally changing the interaction between consumers, brands, and their subsequent supply chains.
It is this dynamic digital-disruption which has left retailers undeniably feeling ever-more pressure to connect with their customers, on a more personable and integral level; to ultimately regain their retail prowess.
A new age of customer has been unleashed, whereby well-connected consumers are able to choose a combination of different routes to take, to make their purchases. Supporting figures from the ONS show that in 2017, 93% of adults who had bought online in the past 12 months, had done so from online sellers in the UK, while 31% had bought from sellers in other EU countries and 31% had bought from the rest of the world.
Influenced by an increase in digital marketing, social media is suggested to prove pragmatic in generating an all-round positive brand experience and useful information, responsible for effective community-building and story-telling which ultimately serves to advocate the successful retail of a brand’s products and services.
Using social media, the retailer is cleverly guaranteed a marketing audience with a known interest in its products or services, whilst the customer is simultaneously provided with a platform to interact directly with the retailer. In doing so, retailers ultimately gain an advantageous avenue through which to develop consumer loyalty, by finding unique ways to let people promote and share their story about how their brand makes an undeniable difference in each individual customers’ lives.
Ultimately, social media provides consumers with a medium in which to conduct a two-way conversation between themselves and brands, companies can use this communication channel to their advantage, to build a loyal customer following, generate new followers, and ultimately boost sales.
Shaped by the ‘consumer-centric’ movement, and greatly driven by digital social trends, and social media, overall retailers are now expected to deliver an engaging and exciting customer focussed purchase experience as standard; and the rise of online shopping means stores must furthermore have an “emotional connection” with their customers.
Retailers have quickly come to realise they must obtain a consistent and substantial digital presence, to maintain their market share.
To facilitate this, an increasing number of retailers are moving away from traditional methods of commerce; highlighting one specific solution which retailers have implemented as a way to regain and maintain their consumer’s brand loyalty – the Supply Chain trend of ‘direct to consumer’ delivery (D2C), by which companies typically ship their products directly to the purchaser.
Heavily encouraged by the subsequent increased need to meet the greater pressure shift in the supply and demand paradigm, in favour of the consumer’s prerogative. The D2C solution is a determined push from many manufacturers into direct-to-consumer selling, propelled by the need to gratify consumers’ prominent ‘right-here, right-now’ mentality.
Despite not being widely recognised as an overly sustainable or traditional delivery method; as the internet continues to dominate the digital domains, and the consumer remains king, the rise in the selective supply chain practices, namely D2C, are predicted to develop.
Moreover, as an increasing number of retailers begin to adopt new and advantageous technologies, including virtual reality headsets and augmented reality experiences, whilst not forgetting the advent of 5G technology, certain predictions can be made surrounding this technology growing in strength, and becoming a very powerful and valuable new commerce channel – especially when used in conjunction with the plethora of readily available, and free to access, social media platforms which currently reside within the public domain.
In the age of digital disruption, an accurate prediction would be that the future of commerce resides online, to be further strengthened, and supported significantly within the medium of social media.