There are 10 major trends that retailers have experienced, both in terms of their operational management and customer expectations.
Whether we like it or not, technology impacts just about every facet of our daily life. And while it has improved our lives in many ways, like huge jumps in medical advancements or the instant availability of just about any piece of information, it has also made life more complex. Remember when making plans to meet a friend at a certain time and place actually required that we go to the place instead of changing and delaying a few times via text message?
These changes have also greatly impacted the way customers get products and information about them. As 56% of customers are digitally influenced before making any purchase, it’s becoming increasingly important that we understand how the lines between in-store and digital are starting to blur.
There are 10 major trends that retailers have experienced, both in terms of their operational management and customer expectations. We’ve outlined them below:
1 – Loyalty programs. Around the world, retailers are ramping up their loyalty programs to help retain their existing customers and delight them with an experience that surpasses those of other brands.
In UAE in particular, loyalty programs are growing rapidly in their popularity, with 65% of those surveyed in 2016 answering that they were a member of at least one loyalty program. Affluent consumers especially are partaking in these activities across industries such as airlines, banks, grocery stores, and of course, in retail.
2 – Personalized buyer experience. This means everything from SMS and email campaigns to creating a shopping app that alerts them to potential options while they are in store based on their buying history. Many CRM solutions can automate these processes to free up employee time for other efforts.
3 – Proximity-based beacons. These Bluetooth-enabled alerts let shoppers who are close by know about sales and other specials designed to draw them in. Did you know that 63% of consumers feel a coupon is the most valuable form of mobile marketing?
4 – Attractive and consistent branding. If your mobile app looks different from your website and your website looks different from your store, it’s not only confusing but it also wrecks your credibility. Having an integrated CRM and ERP solution can help to minimize this risk.
5 – Having a unified, cloud-based POS and inventory that can be supported for offline use. This enhances the buying experience in two major ways: the first being that inventory is always in ‘real time’, so the risk of miscommunication about availability is low. The second being that with advanced algorithms of a clever ERP, the likelihood of your business actually running out of stock decreases as your system gains more data and is able to suggest better insights.
6 – Customers and brands having actual, live conversations. It used to be that brands sent messages to customers and well… that was it. Now, that is very much not the case and with social monitoring tools these conversations can become an integral part of your greater marketing and sales strategies.
7 – SMS and email surveys. Sometimes the best way to find out how your customers feel is to simply ask them. The benefit of these methods is that they are secure, private and can be created to facilitate a very quick and easy process for the participant.
8 – Gamification and award tiers. A strategy used across industries, gamification works by turning activities or platforms that would otherwise be ‘static’ into an interactive and engaging game. By creating award tiers that customers can achieve, they become increasingly motivated to interact with your brand and remain engaged.
9 – Customized mobile app portals. We’ve said it before – a personalized buying experience is key to any successful retail endeavour. Customized mobile apps are a straightforward way to get started with this; in addition to the increased amount of information about your customer that will become available, based on the customized interaction insights.
10 – Customers becoming advocates. With the rise of ‘influencers’, customers are increasingly eager to become advocates of products they love. If your brand can give your customers a truly unmatched experience, you can bet that your customers will be way more likely to share it on their own networks – giving you free coverage and credibility all in one fell swoop.
One of the biggest things to keep in mind with all of these things is that they are essentially physical manifestations of where technology is and how the overall customer expectation has changed. These trends have also required better data collection and reporting throughout in order to be successful. Subsequently, this resulting wealth of operational data from every stage of the process means that businesses have the capacity to make better decisions that impact everything from the smallest of daily operations to the most important in long-term planning. Thus, the ability to respond quickly and effectively to trends as they arise is absolutely necessary for success.
These efforts together can help to enhance the overall buying experience, giving your company a highly viable way to stand out against major online and multinational competitors, like Amazon. Many of them serve to help each other grow, creating a virtuous circle of success in your retail business. If you’re interested in learning how you can best leverage these trends in your retail business, make sure to contact us today.