Tech Guest Viewpoint: Four Shopping Lessons to Finish 2015 Strong
Every year, it seems, summer and the “back to school” shopping season go by in a flash. Suddenly, as the leaves change color, retailers find themselves looking ahead to what they hope will be a successful holiday shopping season.
If you achieved your back-to-school sales goals – congratulations! But now what? The start of fall is a great time to become focused and re-committed on finishing the year strong. It’s also a great time to take stock of where your business has done well, and what challenges or hurdles remain. Those retailers who constantly review and refine are in the best position to take advantage of the latest trends in retail.
Retailers large and small are operating at a faster pace than ever before, with consumers changing not just their minds, but their entire behavior patterns, in the blink of an eye. In fact, already in 2015 we’ve seen a number of shopping trends that will impact retailers’ relationships with their customers.
With change in the air, let’s look at some top tips for increasing and ensuring customer loyalty in the months, and even years ahead.
Lesson #1: Mobile is changing the game (for more than just payments)
The launch of Apple Pay so far may not have disrupted the way consumers transact in the dramatic fashion Apple hoped, but it has marked a new era for mobile. The past 18 months have seen the rise of the e-commerce mobile shopper; now retailers must adapt to the store mobile shopper.
This isn’t simply a case of installing mobile wallet-friendly technology; our favorite device is going to change other bricks-and-mortar interaction channels, such as driving digital loyalty in the store environment.
Lesson #2: Your brand name won’t carry you anymore
A recent study by Kantar Worldpanel pointed out that clothes shoppers aren’t swayed by the label like they used to be, and in fact, some brands are struggling to attract customers on name alone.
This is a salient warning to retail brands in all sectors – you must get your product, price and customer service right, because that’s what customer retention is built on in 2015.
Lesson #3: Convenience is king
Globally we’ve seen a rise in convenience shopping, with more retailers investing in small format stores.
This is part of a wider need for businesses to realize that time is consumers’ most precious currency, and implement digital technologies in store to speed up the purchasing process.
Lesson #4: The store can do more
The store has risen like a phoenix from the ecommerce flames in today’s omnichannel shopping environment; digital interactions are actually driving consumers toward brick-and-mortar – either to make a purchase after researching online, or to pick up a click-and-collect order. Indeed, “click-and-collect,” in which consumers purchase a product online and pick it up at a physical location rather than being delivered, is gaining popularity among U.S. consumers, eMarketer recently noted. However, the store is still the least adaptable, most anonymous part of the connected retail journey, with many customers feeling let down by the impersonal experience they receive.
This trend will resonate further with retailers in the coming year, but it is worth concluding with this guidance: to equal the convenience and adaptability of online shopping, stores must work harder to attract, convert and retain customers. This can be achieved most seamlessly through the effective implementation of in-store technology, like mobile point of sale, loyalty applications and digital passes.
Tim Barton is director, strategic accounts at iVend Retail.
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