In this digital age, retailers must be more vigilant of the latest industry trends than ever before. Technology advancements are reshaping customer expectations as well as the overall communication between retailers and customers. Adapting to these new retail trends — including a consistent omnichannel presence, free and same-day delivery and app-exclusive offers — is becoming more of a must for retailers than a luxury. The decision to choose complacency instead of adaptation in many cases can lead to an organization sinking amid the sea of competitors.
So how are customer expectations shifting, and how can you stay abreast of the latest retail trends? In this article, I’ll unpack three of the top trends to implement in your retail organization.
Get On Board With A Consistent Omnichannel Presence
You may be tired of hearing about this trend. But it’s imperative you learn to love it because it isn’t just a passing fad. Omnichannel experiences require seamlessly integrating the numerous shopping channels your organization offers in order to meet consumers where they are, including:
- Brick-and-Mortar Locations
- Web sites/Online Chats
- Mobile Applications
- Social Media Platforms
- Telephone Communications
- And More
Developing a consistent omnichannel presence can allow for a better overall customer experience and strengthen your customer loyalty. In fact, customers spend 9% more in-store when they interact with at least four channels online vs. only one channel on average. This Harvard Business Review study also reports 23% more repeat in-store shopping trips within six months after an omnichannel shopping experience. You can’t discount statistics like these when considering your online presence and brand strategies.
- Is it easy to speak with a store representative, no matter the platform?
- Does each channel offer the same level of quality service, brand image and usability?
- Are you focusing too much on generating sales, and not enough on creating a memorable experience for customers?
- Can a customer start a purchase on one channel and complete the process in another?
Know the channels your organization is represented on, ensure brand consistency across the board and improve your overall customer experience.
Steer Clear Of Long Delivery Times
Consumers today not only expect an engaging customer experience, but studies show that delivery times are also increasing in importance. In today’s world of convenience, shoppers want quality products and services faster than ever before. And in order to compete with services like Amazon Prime, your organization must decide if you should offer free shipping and/or same-day delivery.
According to MarketingCharts, non-Amazon Prime members that purchased products with free shipping are willing to wait for 4.5 days on average. That number dropped to only 3.8 days consumers are willing to wait if they are Amazon Prime members.
Retailers must dive into same-day shipping (or at least faster delivery times) and free shipping in order to stay afloat in this highly competitive industry.
Go Beyond The Mainstream Promotions
Continuing the timeliness conversation, customers expect frequent promotions personalized to their tastes. Especially as consumers offer more data when subscribing to newsletters and offering personal information in order to receive discounts, it’s crucial to quickly engage those customers by personalizing the messaging and offers they receive.
In fact, an astounding 54% of consumers expect a discount offer within 24 hours of identifying themselves to a brand, and 63% say that receiving offers within an hour of interacting with a brand increases customer loyalty.
But don’t generalize your offers or broadcast them across all of your channels. Consider offering app-exclusive discounts to mobile users in order to gain more traffic to your mobile applications. Improve email open, click and conversion rates with email-specific discount codes. Or increase engagement on social media with promotional offers only provided through your individual online platforms.
Whatever strategy you choose to execute, make sure your brand’s offers match your customers’ specified preferences. If you don’t keep promotions personal, studies show that 71% of customers will become frustrated and are less likely to engage with your brand.
It’s sink or swim in today’s retail climate. Adapting to the latest retail trends can help you improve customer loyalty and leave the competition in your wake. Do you know what trends your competitors have implemented, and are you ready to ride this new wave of retail trends?
Stay afloat in the sea of competitors by going beyond mainstream promotions with personalized and channel-specific offers and messaging, steering clear of long delivery times and ensuring a consistent omnichannel presence — including through in-store, online and over-the-phone interactions.
Lisa van Kesteren is the Founder and CEO of SeeLevel HX, a leading mystery shopping and customer experience agency utilizing 650,000 professional gig workers to help brands improve their customer experiences. Additionally, she was one of the founding members of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association and was responsible for the creation of the original Code of Ethics for the mystery shopping industry. After building two global divisions for large corporations, she launched her own company in 2008. In 2014, she acquired and integrated two strategic competitors. In 2018, van Kesteren was honored with the March of Dimes Atlanta Woman of Distinction award and was inducted into the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ Class of 2018.