The Rise of Technology Enabled Retail in Canada

The holiday season of 2012 will surely set the digital bar higher in the world of retail.

It’s only early November and already you begin to see the shopping centers filling up. One thing you can’t help but notice is the amount of people walking around with thei the holiday season upon us, many consumers are checking out what the competitors have to offer before committing to that purchase.

According to a recent Google Holiday Consumer Intentions survey, 80% of shoppers will research online before making a purchase this holiday season—and they will use any device they have at their fingertips.

This trend has never been seen before in Canada, and perhaps has never even been seen on this scale in the US either.  It is estimated that 51% of customers will research online and then visit the store to purchase.  This means that for every person you see in the malls and big box stores, over half of them already know what they want, the price they should pay and the reviews of the product they are going to purchase.  That is a staggering amount of knowledge that has been put in the hands of the consumers.

One of the leaders in the e-commerce world today, Bob Schwartz (formerly of Nordstrom.com and Magento), has recently been referring to this paradigm shift as “Technology Enabled Retail.” Consumers appear to be embracing this mindset.

Prior to completing their holiday shopping, 56% of tablet owners and 45% of smartphone owners will use these devices to compare prices. Further, 48% of tablet owners will read product reviews. And 46% of tablet owners will read product information.

All stats point in the same direction. The technology at the disposal of todays “Connected Consumer” allows them to be more informed and more knowledgeable than the average store employee you will find.  This may come as a sad realization for some businesses, but it can be extremely empowering for the average consumer.

The bottom line is this: the Internet and mobile devices will have an impact on this year’s Holiday Shopping like never before.  This will force transparency across products and pricing for everyone, and the ultimate winner will be the consumer.

So this year, when you feel good about the deals you got and the quality of items you chose, be sure to remember that this was brought to you by a little thing we like to call technology enabled retail.