- Robyn Turk |
Retail is changing in our digital world. As consumer behaviors over the last 12 months has proven, shoppers aren’t interested in entirely ditching brick and mortar retail in favor of digital, and that means both channels of commerce need to adapt to fit what shoppers want. Analysts at technology and consultancy firm Visual Retailing have determined the more important strategies retailers can take in 2019 to meet consumer trends.
Competitive retailers aiming to attract shoppers in this year’s busy holiday shopping season have discovered quickly that offering fast delivery options is a must. Amazon offers its Prime members free two-day delivery, a deal it extended to all shoppers across the United States for the holidays. Target and Walmart did the same, offering free shipping within two days.
Today’s shopper wants an immediate gratification from a purchase. Anything longer than two days is too long, and the shopper will find a product elsewhere.
Constant connection to the consumer
“When [shoppers] identify a buying need, they want to source, compare and purchase there and then, wherever they may be,” read Visual Retailing’s report. Shoppers know what they want, and it’s the retailer’s job to deliver. With new technology and AI features, a shopping experience can be made as convenient as possible for shoppers.
Farfetch recently introduced a visual search tool that allows its shoppers to search an image of any product they want and find the same or similar style through the retailer’s site. Similarly, Asos offers an AI size assistance tool to help consumers find the right size while shopping online.
The customer “experience”
”Experience” has been one of the biggest keywords in retail lately. Technology allows shoppers to find what they want anywhere, so enticing them into a store or directing them to an ecommerce site relies on the experience shoppers know they can expect from a retailer.
A recent study from the Sitel Group determined that interactions with salespeople in a physical store influence whether or not they choose to return, more than pricing or quality of product. The report stated that “consumers’ loyalty to brands is delicate at best.”
Along with positive human interactions, today’s consumer wants to be entertained when shopping in brick and mortar, and have a convenient experience when shopping online. In the digital sector, Sies Marjan partnered with a software called Flow to bring ease in digital sales made internationally. The brand’s shoppers around the globe can seamlessly shop through the site in their own currency and with reasonable shipping times.
Nike recently planted its House of Innovation store in a 68,000 square foot space on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Its shockingly large size is almost unheard of in a retail landscape when most physical stores are being downsized, however Nike is using all of its square footage for the customer experience.The store brings in foot traffic through omnichannel in-store options that work with an app and a museum dedicated to the brand’s products.
Exclusivity and personalization
Shoppers in 2019 understand the value of their dollar and their data, and they want something in return. “A relationship is all about give and take, and a retailer’s relationship with the customer should be no different,” wrote Visual Retailing. The firm suggests exclusive offers or customizing option.
Brands have been offering customization options as a way to spark the consumer’s engagement. Shoppers are no longer accepting “cookie cutter” items and want their purchases to be reflective of their individuality.
Consumers trust brands more than they trust the government, according to a report by Edelman Earned Brand. Shoppers, especially those in the millennial and Gen Z generations, will select where to shop due to the company’s social or political stances. And sustainability is becoming a main focus for shoppers and brands alike.
Multiple new sustainable missions amongst retailers and brands have popped up just this month. A joint effort between Stella McCartney and the UN has resulted in a charter for climate action, with over 40 brands signing on in less than a week. Global luxury group Kering teamed up with ecological organization the Savory Institute to improve the environmental impact of the fashion supply chain.
“An environmental conscience is essential in 2019,” Visual Retailing wrote. “Having paper as the only option for blanket-distributed catalogues will be frowned upon, whilst single use packaging should be an option rather than forced upon the customer.”