Retail is an incredibly fast-paced industry. A sector that constantly evolves, it regularly sees new updates on ways to buy, sell and market, improving efficiencies and promoting brand awareness.
In 2018, we saw the rise of Artificial Intelligence, with more ways to communicate with brands without human interaction than ever. We also saw the way data is used transform even further – helping retailers keep informed about how their customers make purchases at their business.
So what’s coming for 2019? Will there be much of the same as 2018, or can we expect retail to take a different direction? Here are our thoughts on how trends in the retail industry will play out over the course of this year, and the areas you can start to capitalise on now.
Third-party data is likely to be left behind in 2018 as we move towards the use of zero-party data. Zero-party data refers to information owned by the consumer that they are happy and willing to provide to trusted brands. Previous data scandals and the introduction of new laws (GDPR) have made consumers even more cautious with their data and this means retailers now need to work harder than ever before to build direct relationships with their target customer.
Customers can willingly share their data through a range of means, from opting in to emails to making purchases using points cards, through contact with the brand on social media or by exhibiting purchase intentions. The way these consumers interact with the business can then inform the retailer on how best to personalise their marketing efforts – and even products and services directly – to each individual consumer.
For example, ASOS has recently launched a function whereby customers can put outfits together in a Pinterest-style ‘board’. This function not only provides a useful tool for the customer, but it also enables ASOS to gain even more insight into the way their customers shop and put outfits together, and even their own personal style.
Putting the customer at the forefront of absolutely everything has long been the aim among retailers – although not always achievable.
In 2019 however, retailers will have access to technology that allows them in-depth insight into their customer base – Voice of Customer Analytics can be used to look into the motivations, goals and thought processes of a target audience.
You can collate Voice of Customer Analytics using the data from various channels:
- Listen to your customers’ suggestions – whether these come from social media, through direct contact with your business or simply word of mouth – it’s easy to gain an understanding of how your prices fare, generate ideas for new or sought after products and learn if a particular product should be discontinued – or even re-launched.
- Gather feedback on the customer experience, through a survey or similar, to determine the level of satisfaction at various points throughout the customer journey. Establish why the customer chose your business and understand whether the customer would recommend your product or service.
- Monitor patterns in patterns and preferences throughout the year (specifically events and seasons) and establish how current environmental or political factors might affect your marketing efforts.
- Monitor your brand and customer retention levels to understand where improvements can be made within your branding, loyalty schemes and customer service that would lead to greater levels of customer satisfaction.
As price becomes less important and customer experience prevails, with 86% of consumers willing to pay more for a great customer experience, it’s now more important than ever to get on board with making customer centricity your number one priority.
Wish there was a tab on like Missguided, pretty little thing etc for “jeans and a nice top”
— Jennifer Stuart (@Jeennyx) January 3, 2018
— Missguided (@Missguided) January 15, 2018
The In-Store Experience
In a previous blog post, ‘Are shopping centres heading towards becoming lifestyle destinations?’, we discussed that experiential retail is becoming more important as consumers are less interested in ‘stuff’ and more interested in ‘experiences’.
This means that in 2019, retailers need to up their in-store game to entice customers to visit their shop and make purchases. There are many big players in the retail industry already doing this effectively. House of Vans, London, has transformed into not only a place for consumers to shop, but also somewhere customers can socialise and enjoy their hobby with a built-in underground skatepark, with sessions for 5 year-olds upwards.
A huge part of the success of in-store experiences such as those offered by House of Vans in London is the in-store aesthetics. Branding is important, and it’s creating an atmosphere through the store fit out that matches the events the store will play host to. The Vans London store is also a great example of a job well done here – with flooring, large-format wall displays and posters all doing their bit to contribute to the overall experience.
Another great example, Zara, also know how to get customers into their stores by having an extremely fast stock turnaround. The stores are rumoured to receive brand new stock every other week, with older lines being quickly phased out. This means if you see something you like, you should buy it there and then, as it’s highly unlikely it will still be there when you go back. This keeps customers loyal to brick-and-mortar stores and interested on what the latest fashion brought to the store will be – the bricks-and-mortar of the business.
The most successful retail space per sq. ft., the Apple Store has also invested in store events to provide great customer experience, offering a range of workshops inside their store, from photography to coding, each and every single day. Not only do they provide a quality product, but they also spend the time to advise their customers on how to get the most out of them.
An infographic put together by 9Spokes suggests that 33% of consumers actively choose to make their purchases from companies who they view as doing environmental or social good. Companies shouting about their ethical practices are likely to gain traction from a wide range of consumers who not only care about product quality, but also about the production line, the treatment of staff and more.
Positioning yourself as an ethical company is likely to engage your customers far more, as not only is making a purchase a pleasure for them, but it also makes them feel that they have done something good by buying from your business.
There are many ways you can stand out to consumers as a brand with an ethical culture, by making your employees the voice of your brand, donating to charities, sourcing materials ethically and sustainably, reducing waste and cutting plastic – the list goes on.
If your consumer feels they can relate to your brand and its culture, you’re already winning. Iceland did this really well towards the end of 2018, as they launched the banned ‘No Palm Oil Christmas’ advert. This saw sales rise 1.8% as customers aligned their values with the frozen food store.
Faster turnaround times
Mentioned earlier when discussing Zara’s fast stock turnaround, faster turnaround times across the board can help you to win among your competition. This includes faster delivery times, faster introduction of new stock, faster everything.
Today, customers want access to anything and everything as quickly as possible. In 2017, 58.9% of ecommerce purchases were made through a mobile device, and 63.5% in 2018. Consumers are making purchases constantly, throughout the day and night, no matter where they are.
This means you need to be sure your customers can access your products and services 24/7 to stay ahead, and it needs to be a straightforward process to do so. You also need to be sure you’re offering to get purchases to them as quickly as possible. So if your business is service-based, be sure to follow up on leads almost immediately before a competitor sweeps in and if your business is product-based, offer premium delivery services such as same or next day.
Now you know the major trends we predict to reshape retail as we head into 2019 and beyond, it’s time to get innovative and start incorporating these into your everyday operations. Need a hand? At AlphaGraphics we specialise in enhancing the shopping experience through the use of bespoke marketing materials, strategies and large format print solutions for retail businesses. Get in touch with us today on 0191 5800915 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.