Automation key for retailers navigating economic challenges: Future of Commerce report

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Today, mobile payment technology company Social class released its annual future of commerce report Outlines key consumer trends as well as the main strategies and solutions businesses are adopting to attract and retain customers and remain resilient in an environment of economic uncertainty.

Between November 15 and November 28, 2022, Square conducted the survey in collaboration with wakefield research, 2000 Canadian consumers, 500 retail owners or managers, and 500 restaurant owners or managers. An equal number of American respondents were surveyed in each category.

Struggling retailers are targeting Gen Z consumers (Canadians born between 1997 and 2002), especially during times of macroeconomic challenges, including supply chain shortfalls, staffing concerns, and a looming recession. Rightly so, as the report shows that 88 percent of consumers, more than half of whom are young, may be wondering whether their favorite local businesses have revised their prices to account for the effects of inflation and the rising cost of goods. Increase. Younger consumers are also more sympathetic to small, struggling businesses, as many are looking to jump into the entrepreneurial pool and are aware of the challenges.

Technology has been key to driving the entrepreneurial ambitions of young consumers, as more than three in five agree that with the technology and tools available today, starting a business has never been easier.

Future of Commerce Report: Generation Z Trends

Retailers are also adopting automation technologies to enhance the customer and employee experience. A significant 73 percent of consumers said they would prefer automation over live staff members in at least one area of ​​the business, such as providing information about products or inventory (44 percent), placing orders or checkout (38 percent) and arranging for pickup or delivery (41 percent).

“In today’s competitive retail landscape, it has become increasingly important for businesses to Apply technology that automates their back-end operations across channels, locations and staf,” said Roshan Jhunja, general manager, Square for Retail. “In addition to supporting cost efficiencies, automated technology empowers retailers to focus on strategic decisions that can drive business forward.”

Future of Commerce Report: Automation Trends

In addition, e-commerce and establishing new channels for in-store customers are helping retailers grow, the report showed. More than 80 percent of Canadian retailers are considering more than five commerce channels by 2023. Options such as Afterpay, as well as online sales through Facebook and Instagram, are now well established in Canada. Sales from social media in Canada have increased by 60 percent from 2021.

Interaction with customers is also shifting to social media platforms. While 60 percent of consumers still want to communicate with the businesses they frequent by email, 46 percent want to hear from them through their social media profiles or their direct messages.

“The current macro scenario is giving a tough reality check to retailers that it is not enough for brands to be present at a single location. Beyond a physical store and online presence, brands need to be seen and heard on social media platforms where consumers can come to get inspired and shop,” Jhunja said.

In-store Canadian retailers aren’t resisting the technology either. Forty-three percent either use or plan to introduce QR codes in-store to provide additional product information and promotions to customers. Another 37 percent of retailers are adding virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or interactive kiosks to stores, possibly to connect with the Gen Z demographic, as the report suggested.

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