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The Roots of Retail: How Commerce Has Come Full Cycle

by Klevu on

It’s often said that those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. But when it comes to retail, we can harness historic patterns. In this article, we explore lessons from the past about the ancient desires of modern shoppers.

Where modern retail is concerned, essential consumer expectations haven’t changed much since the days of the all-purpose village general store.

As customers, we have deeply rooted desires that are as valid today as they have been at any point during our history. We want to be recognized, acknowledged, assisted and rewarded throughout a purchasing experience that’s made as convenient as possible.

The best modern e-commerce experiences pay close attention to the user journey. They optimize for these universal needs, ensuring that customers leave the store with everything that they hoped to, feeling valued and understood.

Up Close and Personal

Whether shopping today or 100 years ago, there’s a sense of validation in being recognized by the merchants you choose to spend your time and money with. The sensation of walking into your local store and being recognized, even known by name, was an everyday occurrence for customers before the historical expansion of the high street. 

Today, AI-fueled, full-spectrum personalization feels like the cutting edge of user-led modern e-commerce. But it’s essentially just a replica of something the traditional shopping experience always offered. The shopper should feel as though they’ve been greeted by a sales assistant who remembers what they bought on their last visit. Helpful recommendations based on your personal preferences should be immediately obvious.

In addition to feeling appreciated by the store in question, leveraging features such as Klevu’s Personalized Search Recommendations converts the shopping experience to a convenient ‘custom fit.’ This saves shoppers time, as they’re presented with the products they were hoping to find quickly and efficiently.

It’s Good to Talk

Ever since warring cavemen decided to down their stone axes and began to trade, there has been a social element to shopping. As consumers, we want to feel listened to, and appreciate the chance to ask questions and take advice when making comparisons.

E-commerce has many wonderful advantages, but a significant barrier to conversion has always been the inability to handle, touch and feel a product before purchase. The increased level of trust needed to buy an item you can’t really experience beforehand sharpens our desire to converse and double-check.

Again, something that we see as a modern trend — conversational commerce — seeks to replicate an age-old aspect of transactional exchange. Once, we spoke face-to-face with the craftsperson or store clerk. Today, we’re connected with merchants through the intersection of messaging apps, chatbots and even voice commands.

A Love of Loyalty

The stores we frequent have the potential to become a significant part of our everyday lives. The economic choices that we make help to define who we are. By consciously choosing to invest in certain retailers, we enter into an ongoing relationship, and since the dawn of time, we have expected this to be mutually beneficial.

We’ve always responded well to recognition and reward of our consumer loyalty. In yesteryear, the local greengrocer slipped a few extra peaches into his favorite customers’ bags. Now, the latest technologically advanced digital rewards programs, such as Loyalty Lion, offer a wide range of points-based reward systems and branded loyalty experiences. 

A Helping Hand

Convenience plays a huge part in the way that we choose to shop. Since ancient times it’s dictated the growth of whole realms of retail — the corner store, the service station, the stadium snack vendor. We want to find the right product, in the right place, at the right price. 

Creating a path of least resistance has always been essential when it comes to ensuring happy, high-converting customers. Visual merchandising has been in existence since the very earliest days of trading, and setting out your wares in an intelligent, measured way is still a crucial element of e-commerce management.

Several of Klevu’s features help here, most notably via the self-learning search and rich autocomplete functions. These help to deliver results to your customer in the most efficient and intelligent manner.

Look Back to Get Ahead

It feels as though retail has evolved rapidly since the rise of e-commerce. But our desires, habits and reactions to the experience of shopping remain the same. To get ahead in today’s crowded marketplace, many would do well to take a lesson from the simpler shopping experiences of days gone by.
To find out how these modern takes on old traditions can boost your brand, check out Klevu’s full feature list and schedule a demo to learn more.

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