Are you tired of hearing about vanishing brand loyalty, stores closing, and malls shutting down? Many retailers are in desperate need of optimism in 2019. Here are five places to look ...
As the New Year gets under way, it's easy for retailers to be worried — and start feeling like they're running out of options to improve the bottom line. You can only reduce prices and cut operating costs so many times in an attempt to please consumers who seem to be more fickle and demanding every day.
But look a little deeper and you'll see some major trends beginning to emerge. If you can find ways to align your stores and products with these forces, your business will be in more in tune with today’s consumer expectations. Get that done and it's possible you'll start to thrive in 2019.
Here are 5 retail trends that spring to mind ...
#1: Customers value experience above all
Researchers have found that 72% of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things. And when it comes to in-store customer experience, Baby Boomers prefer the human touch that comes with a twist of technology innovation.
Retailers can turn shopping into an experience by leveraging AI, IoT and other in-store tech. For example, staff can carry around smart devices to help with inquiries, while shopbots can direct individualized offers to consumers while they walk around the aisles.
#2: People want something in return for their data
A global survey has found that 51% of consumers are happy to share their data with businesses — if there are clear benefits for doing so.
One of the main challenges retailers face is to stop thinking about relationships based solely on transactions. They need to become trusted advisers that understand their customers in a personal way and help improve their lives with relevant advice, useful tips and helpful reminders, in-store and online. It's not always just about the sale.
#3: Consumers expect you to know what they want
This sounds like you’re trying to be a mind-reader. And it’s not like consumers aren't demanding enough already, right? But when you can capture and analyze the right data in-store and across other channels, then you can actually start to make educated guesses about what they might be wanting next — with astonishing accuracy.
With the right tools, this is now possible. You can deliver a consistent and seamless experience as consumers move from device to device, from the digital world to the physical world. Your engagement becomes a continuing, relevant and personal conversation.
#4: Subscription-based models are gaining popularity
The subscription services e-commerce market has been growing 100% YOY for the past five years — but there's no reason why retailers can't create compelling offers to sell in-store or online. Subscriptions work extremely well for beauty products, as well as products like artisan coffee and even automobiles. Care by Volvo is changing perceptions of car ownership and the company hopes half its sales will come from this subscription service by 2025.
With subscription services, retailers can secure longer-term customers, gain access to their data, and use it to offer greater personalization.
#5: Consumers are seeking connections
A recent KPMG study explored what customers want from their experiences with companies. In the US, loyalty was linked most to personalization and how businesses use individualized attention to drive emotional connection. This involves demonstrating that you understand the customer’s specific circumstances and will adapt their experience accordingly.
To put it another way, it's not that brand loyalty doesn't exist anymore. It's just changed into a more human, emotional connection that retailers must strive to offer.
Will more paper and glue really do?
Capitalizing on these huge trends will take more than a few tweaks to existing systems and programs. What you really need is a platform that captures customer preferences and automatically provides relevant, personalized content in real-time across devices. When this happens, you'll be perfectly placed to harness these top trends and many more besides.
Visit Sitecore at Booth #2940 at NRF 2019: Retail’s Big Show (Jan. 13-15 in New York) to learn how to build stronger relationships with shoppers and accelerate revenues.
Paul Fennemore is C-Suite Level Digital Transformation and Customer Experience Consultant at Sitecore