NEW YORK - Technology will influence the way consumers shop in 2012 more than the tough economic times, according to PLMALive€™s year-end review panel on a website operated by the Private Label Manufacturers Association. The panelists gave their predictions for how technology will impact shopping behavior in the coming year.
Dr. Kantha Shelke, PLMALive€™s science and technology contributor, said the online technology has allowed consumers to have a retail shopping experience in the comfort of their homes. Shelke says that while consumers are still physically going out to purchase products, they are increasingly gathering product information via the Internet.
Technology is not only affecting consumer behavior, but retailers are using it to implement new ideas. Michael Sansolo, regular PLMALive contributor, predicted that technology will allow retailers to further experiment with smaller store formats. Retailers can open smaller stores in highly populated urban areas, as technology will allow more products to be available online and thus decreasing the amount that needs to be carried in store.
Another PLMALive panelist, Brad Edmondson predicted that technology would make home delivery a viable retail attribute in 2012, as it will allow consumers to purchase and receive groceries without leaving their home. Consumers will be able to cut travel costs and save precious hours they may need.
While technology is making an impact, the economy is still a factor in consumer behavior. Edmondson explained the two major reasons why spending will not reach its previous rates: the younger generation of Americans lost 20% of their purchasing power during the last two years, more than any other age group, and the Baby Boomer generation is focusing on saving money for retirement. This combination makes it tough to foresee if spending will reach pre-recession numbers in the near future.