Shopping experience is constantly evolving, but currently, were living in an era where you can buy almost anything you want with a single click of a button.

According to recent eMarketer research, last year ecommerce sales around the world almost 2 trillion dollars. And if that sounds a lot just consider this – eMarketer researchers are also saying that the number is going to double by the end of the decade.

The matter of the fact is – the gap between online commerce is finally shrinking, and in order to stay afloat and up-to-date, both online and offline businesses have to re-examine their business strategies and make some adjustments.

And for people who are looking to enter the market, the story is basically same – if they want to reach their target demographic effectively, they need to completely understand the ever-changing commerce landscape. So here are a couple of strategies that can help you bridge the gap between the two worlds in the next couple of years…

User-Data and Personalization

The market is currently over saturated by marketers doing everything in their power to capture the consumers’ attention. And this is why modern businesses need to design their in-store strategies to engage their target demographic on a much deeper level.

The best way to do this is to provide a personalized experience and connect with possible customers as early as possible in the buying process. For this, you’ll need to collect geo-, demo- and social data to create some meaningful content for consumers.

For years, selling clothes online presented a huge challenge for online business across the globe, because, let’s face it, nothing compares to trying on various pieces of clothing in a real-world store. So to combat this, some companies started determining the interest of their customers before they even enter the store.

For instance, just look at Nordstrom – the company that uses data to closely track pins on Pinterest and discover what products are trending on there. Once they have this data, they are able to display their most popular items in their real-world stores and on their official site, and encourage consumers to purchase these items.

This what modern consumers prefer – according to a recent survey conducted by Infosys, almost 80% of people prefer to do work with companies that provides them with offers based on their personal needs, want and interests.

The Internet of Things

If you really want to monitor the behavior of your consumers and identify new trends before your competitors, you need to start using the Internet of Things. And just what the Internet of Things is you might be wondering at this point…

Basically, it is a network of Internet-capable, everyday items – like phones, TVs and watches for example – that have the ability to connect and even “communicate” with each other. And while we don’t know the exact number, as IEEE Spectrum reports, we’ll have at least 10 billion IoT-capable devices in the world by 2020.

And people use these devices today on a daily basis, so let’s say a certain customer has an internet-connected fridge which can pick info on groceries the customer buys most often. Moreover, the fridge can also give you data on the consumption habits of that customer.

If you want to start leveraging this technology, you have to hurry, because some brands have already started using it. Just take Home Depot as an example, they’ve made life easy for their customers with the Internet of Things, by connecting their shop carts with an in-store, smartphone app.

In-Store Experience Online

So what’s the actual goal of ecommerce? In essence, online retailers are trying to eliminate the need for the consumers to ever leave the comfort of their home in order to buy what they need. And if you want to fully optimize the purchase process, you need to merge the physical and online world.

IKEA managed to do this rather successfully, with their “virtual showroom” that enables consumers to use their tablets and smartphones to display pieces of furniture as they’d look in their homes. This is the ultimate personalized consumer experience that doesn’t require leaving the house at the moment.

So let’s say you’re trying to sell makeup online, you should probably take the page from Sephora’s book, and start using augmented reality to encourage your customers to buy your products without trying them on. The company recently published an app called “Sephora Virtual Artist” that scans the consumer’s face and lets her try on different looks.

Augmented Reality perfectly combines the digital and physical world and provides extremely-personalized experience that guides consumers through the shopping process. So it’s no wonder that by the end of the decade, revenue from AR is expected to reach 120 billion dollars, according to Digi-Capital research

Final Thoughts

As we already said – the gap between online and offline has already gotten small in the last couple of years – and as the time goes on, it will only get even smaller. This is not great news for businessmen who don’t like changes, because what’s successful today, won’t necessarily be successful tomorrow.

But the bottom line is this – no matter if your business is on or offline, you still need to work as hard as you can to provide a great and memorable experience for your customers. And the only mistake you can really make is not embracing these technological changes any time soon.

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