2015 has seen retailers, both small and big, trying to innovate and differentiate in their efforts to grow in today’s highly competitive market. The way a consumer shops today is largely influenced by the emergence and growth of digital and mobile technologies; retailers have had to tune their strategies in line with the new technological trends in order to engage and win the customer at the start of their shopping journeys.
Some of the top retail trends seen in 2015 are as follows:
1. Omni-channel goes mainstream
According to a Timetrade’s Retail Report 2015, 85% of consumers prefer to shop at physical stores when compared to online stores. Retailers thus have to ensure that they have a blended approach that combines both online and offline channels in order to reach out to customers at various touchpoints. Stores should focus on providing customers with a cohesive experience across all channels, which is where technologies like iBeacon can prove to be very valuable. Beacons allow retailers to stitch together customer journeys in both the physical and digital worlds.
Major retailers from Macy’s to Target to Tesco have invested in beacons in order to offer contextual, personalised content to customers at the right time.
Tesco launched its beacon project across 270 stores in London, in collaboration with Unilever.
In case you are planning your omni-channel strategy, this comprehensive e-book on integrating beacons to your retail strategy can help you.
2. Social media gains traction
Social media is among the most valuable channels to drive customer engagement, enhance brand value and influence sales. Social discovery led shopping is fast gaining traction. Major players in the social media space, from Facebook to Pinterest to YouTube, are racing to include Buy buttons and virtual shops on their platforms with the aim of generating increased revenues.
Nordstrom is an interesting example of a store that leveraged social media to drive brand engagement. The store collated their popular products from social media and displayed the same in-store. This makes it easier for customers to find the popular items in-store and also acts as a social proof for users.
3. Personalisation is the key to customer engagement
Customers today need real-time personalization. A 2015 Accenture survey found that nearly 60 percent of shoppers want real-time promotions and offers. Capturing a customer during his/her various micro moments with highly relevant, contextual and personalised content is the key to retail success. By taking customers’ preferences, tastes and past purchases into account, retailers can deliver highly targeted information, offers and discounts to them. The easiest way to do it is to sync customers’ shopping lists, wishlists and favourites with the app. Personalisation can help push shoppers down the buying path, activate purchases and enhance in-store experience among others.
Here is a quick guide on the best practices for implementing in-store personalization.
4. Mobile payment surges ahead
With the ability to process payments easily, efficiently and in a secure manner, mobile payments are fast making inroads into mainstream retail. In the United States, total mobile payments — comprising in-person payments, remote purchases, and peer-to-peer transfers — will nearly triple in five years, from $52 billion in 2014 to $142 billion in 2019, forecasts Forrester Research.
Beacons are among the newest additions that are helping drive sales and digitise consumer payments in the FinTech world. An innovative example of beacon-enabled payments, is that of leading beauty brand, Sephora. The brand recently piloted beacons together with mobile wallets; they used their Beauty Insider program–to nudge women to buy the products in their basket, through their mobile wallets. Beacons also alerted them to get a mini-makeover near the store’s Beauty Studio and reminded shoppers to use their Beauty Insider card to obtain reward points which ultimately led to increased customer loyalty.
5. Data drives decision-making
Retailers are fast moving into data-driven decision making across all their functional areas. The success of a retailer will depend on their ability to effectively sift vast data sets to draw important trends which in turn can guide future efforts.
While, Big Data allowed retailers to more accurately target marketing profiles of their customers, iBeacon technology gives retailers the opportunity to target those customers through highly relevant and personalized offers. Valuable untapped data can be gathered through beacons, such as the number of beacon hits, customer dwell times and popular in-store routes among others. This data allows retailers to accordingly make improvements to products, price and promotion across various departments and services.
Essential retail metrics that can be gathered in a store include loyalty, footfalls and engagement rates among others
Given the huge impact that technology has had on changing consumer behaviour, we can safely say that the retailer who will succeed in the coming years, is one who can provide clear, seamless, convenient and personalised experiences to its customers, that is backed by solid data analytics.
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