3 minute read
The lasting influence of technology on businesses and consumers
Before the 2019 holiday season, health and safety did not even register as a concern for most shoppers. But as the 2020 holiday season rolled around, shopping became characterized by low foot traffic, social distancing, and a sharp increase in online shopping. This holiday season continues to feel different as shoppers seek a "new normal" post-pandemic.
Between 2019 and now, consumers embraced new behaviors that have reshaped commerce, and these behaviors are here to stay.
As we head into 2022, this holiday shopping season gives us a preview of what the future holds for businesses and consumers–and the lasting impression technology has made on us all.
Continued shift to digital
Throughout the pandemic, consumers and businesses grew to rely on technology in new ways—online shopping, virtual doctor's visits, and contactless commerce to name a few. And despite a return to in-person interactions in 2021, the virtual habits we have developed will continue to grow as online spending is expected to increase between 11% and 15% over 2020.
Businesses that have embraced this new digital economy are reaping sizeable rewards. And though physical stores will remain a vital part of the retail ecosystem, the purpose they serve continues to evolve, including a mix of traditional and online shopping, virtual showrooms, and micro fulfillment centers. Similarly, restaurants have learned to embrace a mix of both physical and virtual experiences, from in-person dining to online ordering, and from curbside pick-up to delivery.
Omnichannel takes center stage
Businesses have invested heavily in meeting customers how, when, and where they want to transact. As a result, consumers have come to expect a seamless, omnichannel shopping experience whether they are buying online, in-store, or on a mobile app.
Removing friction and optimizing the customer experience has come to the forefront for businesses of all sizes and across all vertical markets as consumers have become increasingly comfortable navigating between apps, websites, and in-person shopping. Businesses that fail to blend online and offline environments will struggle to keep up with customers' expectations and risk losing out to more digitally-enabled competitors.
Automation gains traction
Businesses also embraced technology when the pandemic hit, and they continue to increase investment in automation to help meet customer expectations amidst a persistent worker shortage. But automation does not just augment staff; it frees employees up from mundane, repetitive tasks and allows them to spend more time interacting directly with customers and driving business growth.
From streamlining back-office processes to enabling customer self-service, technology helps improve both customer and employee experiences—during the holidays and beyond.
The shift-to-digital and openness to adopting new technologies and automated processes are helping businesses deliver personalized, seamless online and in-person experiences that delight customers. No matter how you look at it, technology has made day-to-day tasks easier and improved our lives in many ways over the past two years, leaving a lasting impression. We have entered a new normal and are not likely to turn back.
Want to learn what 2022 will bring? Read our 2022 Commerce and Payment Trends Report now.
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