Retail Trends for the New Year
New years bring new trends — as well as new opportunities and challenges for retailers. It’s important to keep apprised of retail trends in today’s rapidly changing industry landscape. You might be riding a wave of healthy holiday sales right now, but looking ahead is what will help you stay successful.
Retail as a Service
Retail is about more than simply walking into a store and making a purchase. The rise of ecommerce in recent years has challenged physical retailers to amp up their in-store experience by offering value adds and other incentives shoppers can’t get online. A big part of what sets independent retailers apart is their ability to really connect with their communities and shoppers on a personal level and offer unmatched customer service.
Invest in Quality Data
An investment in data-quality solutions, such as data verification and cleansing tools that provide deduplication, email validation, and data standardization will aid in organizing data for your business.
Even the best retail products need to come with great customer experiences or you won’t create brand loyalty. Having high-quality data in your customer relationship management and/or point-of-sale system is key to delivering those experiences. With accurate contact information, such as validated email addresses, you stand a better chance of reaching your customers in a timely fashion with news, promotions, and other valuable upsell opportunities.
With an up-to-date product purchase history, you know what customers are interested in and what pain points they’re trying to solve, helping you pinpoint products that will have the most appeal. And with details about the customer collected over time, you not only build a lasting relationship, but you make it so anyone from your company who comes in contact with them can make the customer feel like they ‘know’ them.
The Continued Evolution of Fulfilment
Consumers are demanding more of retailers. When it comes to fulfilment, they’re looking for two key characteristics: fast and free. Retailers who want to stay ahead in 2020 should look to leverage technology to help streamline fulfilment.
Ecommerce activity is pushing retailers’ offline operations and stores to become more flexible. The goal is to remove friction from the customer’s purchase and fulfilment experience. This will drive more creative purchase and fulfilment options, including buy online, pick up in-store , in-store returns for online purchases, and even last-mile delivery.
Fulfilment can also refer to the checkout experience. Self checkout is a trend that emerged a few years ago but is only now integrated strategically into the in-store experience.To cut labor costs and improve ROI, retailers will work to make customers more comfortable with this technology.
Navigating Stock Levels
Maintaining control of your stock when embracing a multichannel sales strategy is essential to operational success, and multi-store retailers will need to look at and optimize inventory at the individual store level, rather than taking a regional approach. Retailers are becoming increasingly attuned to the importance of using store-level data to customize supply to match local demand. With sophisticated data analysis options now available, brands and retailers will capitalize on the opportunity to improve sales. Roll is an important app that will help optimize your stores’ stock levels without interfering with a products’ demand and/or supply. It’s important to have the tools in place that can grow with your business — and they need to have the automations, integrations, and scalability that your business operations rely on.
Emphasis on Retail Employees
As technology comes to the forefront, authentic person-to-person interactions are crucial to developing authentic relationships that lead to in-store sales. An emphasis on the people behind the brand is expected to be a big trend for 2020.
To exceed customer expectations consistently, brands must ensure that customer interactions are rooted in empathy, genuine engagement, and emotional intelligence — areas that haven’t been talked about or taught enough.
This doesn’t mean you need to go on a hiring spree. Your existing workforce has potential that can be developed. But retailers need to look to more innovative approaches to training and staff development to adapt to the evolving retail landscape. To be a salesperson isn’t enough — retail employees are ambassadors of the brand and integral to the human experience.
It’s important to cultivate a community of empathy, a brand culture that cultivates this environment with authentic human interactions. Empathy is not a skill or a process — it’s an outcome of a compassionate and caring culture.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Consumers have put the pressure on companies to take a stand for real-world issues for a while now. And as more brands have incorporated social responsibility and transparency into their identities, consumers are getting better at identifying inauthentic businesses.
An increasingly socially conscious consumer base is demanding the same of the brands they support — and the products they buy. Customers want to know how products are being sourced, what ingredients they contain, and what the supply chain looks like. Many retail brands across industries will look to do the same.
Zero-waste product design and ethical sourcing has become a core tenet for brand loyalty
To make corporate social responsibility (CSR) work for you, find something that resonates with both your brand and your ideal customer and integrate it into your brand story and products naturally.
With 2020 in full swing, you’ll want to take proactive steps in your business to ensure you’re ready to accommodate changes in consumer behavior. Remember: It’s not online versus physical retail anymore. Forward-thinking retailers need to think about how to make online and offline work together seamlessly.