Presented by Shopify

Selling to customers in 2018 is evolving faster than ever before. Forrester predicts that more than $1 trillion of total U.S. retail sales this year will be conducted on a smartphone, and that is not limited to just buying — consumers use their mobile phones for everything from initial research, to price comparisons, to purchases. Shopping, once little more than walking into a store, picking something up off a shelf and paying for it at a cash register, is more and more a mobile-first affair. And mobile shoppers are very different kinds of customers, in three key ways.

1. They’re increasingly mobile-only

Shoppers want to be able to do everything on their mobile devices — including researching a product, making a purchase, and scheduling a return. We now see mobile shopping accounting for 75 percent of traffic and 64 percent of total orders in the first three months of this year. For merchants, what this means is building a sales strategy that reaches customers everywhere, and that is ready to cater to distracted, mobile-only shoppers.

At Shopify’s Unite Partner and Developer Conference held in Toronto last week, we announced a number of products for merchants that serve mobile-loving customers. Shopify debuted Dynamic Checkout, a product that will surface a customer’s preferred payment method immediately upon product selection, meaning it’s one-step to buy — totally friction-free shopping for a customer on-the-go.

We also announced Shopify Ping, a mobile workspace that centralizes business conversations. On mobile, shoppers expect communication to be near-instant, and so Shopify Ping is designed to provide our merchants with a single source of truth when it comes to running their business or managing customer relationships. All of this happens via mobile’s native communication style: Chat-based text conversations, all collected in one central, convenient location.

In addition, with our new 3D development tools, we’re also inviting 3D content creators to build assets that can be used in mobile augmented reality shopping applications. With the help of partners, we’re hoping to create immersive, 3D-powered mobile experiences that any and all merchants can leverage to easily give their own customers novel ways to shop on mobile.

2. They shop both online and in-store

There’s long been a distinction between offline and online shopping, but the separation is mostly semantic these days. Shoppers are less concerned with where they find something they want to buy, and more focused on the experience provided while making the purchase, regardless of whether that happens online or in a retail store.

Despite headlines to the contrary, in-person shopping is still a key part of the shopping experience for most consumers. In fact, PwC found that there’s been a steady increase in physical shoppers over the last three years (from 40 percent in 2015, to 44 percent in 2018), attributed primarily to a need for more sensory and social experiences.

In this context, merchants need to be armed with both online and offline tools to succeed. This is why at Shopify we’ve invested heavily in hardware solutions that cater to shoppers who desire both a physical and an online experience, and a seamless transition between both. Our new Shopify Tap & Chip Reader, which accepts all major contactless payments including Apple Pay and Google Pay, helps support a shopper’s buying preferences as they move from online to offline. We’ve also created new Shopify POS retail software tools that facilitate in-person exchanges of goods purchased online, among other improvements to ensure a seamless shopping experience.

Customers are making purchase decisions based on where their experience expectations are best met and surpassed, not based on arbitrary separations between online and offline sales channels. Shopify is building tools that help merchants make sure they bridge the gap with a consistent offering for their customers no matter where they sell.

3. They shop from everywhere

Modern shoppers also don’t care where they’re getting products. Online commerce has made the world a lot smaller in this regard. Cross-border e-commerce sales are estimated to reach $1.18 trillion in 2021 according to Forrester, and smaller sellers can take advantage of the growing opportunity. At Shopify, we know that reaching the largest number of customers possible is key for our merchants to achieve top line growth. Selling beyond your borders can be a tricky speed bump on the path to this growth, but we’re making it easy for anyone to expand without having to worry about thinking globally.

That’s why we’re launching Local Payment Methods for merchants growing internationally so that their global buyers will be able to see the local payment options they know and trust. An example of this is bank-based cash payments in place of credit, in markets where cash payments are the preferred method for shopping online.

As we examine the differences in how people shop today compared to decades past, or even just a few short years ago, we know technology has fundamentally transformed the way we buy from, and connect with brands. Through our technology and continued investment in anticipating and adapting to changes in buying behaviors, we strive to help merchants create lasting and meaningful connections with their customers. By fully understanding customer preferences and knowing how and when shoppers want to purchase, we can drive more sales for businesses and improve shopping experiences for consumers: a win-win scenario.

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Satish Kanwar is VP of Product at Shopify.

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