How, when, where and why consumers are spending their money is changing. You’ve probably noticed your own shopping habits evolving. Do you spend more time researching online before you visit a store? Do you pay more attention to customer reviews? Do you stick with one trusted brand or do you shop around more?
So what does this mean for 2016? What’s instore? How can retailers prepare for the continued evolution of customer demands and spending habits? Here’s our take on the top 5 consumer trends for 2016 and how you can turn them to your advantage.
Consumers are becoming increasingly affected by the power of the people, and shopping is becoming a social event from start to finish.
More than half of customers research products online before parting with their hard-earned cash because they can compare products and prices easily and make an informed decision about their purchase. Have you noticed the increasing number of websites offering ‘customer reviews’ and ‘Q&A’ sections on product pages? Being able to see real customer responses has been attributed to greater conversion rates. After all, who wants to buy a product that has a whole bunch of negative reviews?
These inclusions are also a great way for retailers to get feedback on their products. Sometimes there are only small gripes that bother customers, but aren’t enough to warrant returning an item. Reviews and Q&A sections give consumers the perfect opportunity to air these concerns, giving the retailer valuable insight into those issues that they might not otherwise have any idea about!
We also need to talk about the power of social media. Businesses large and small are taking advantage of social media to reach their customers. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more are being used to showcase products, share promotions and make valuable contact with customers. These create further opportunities for those customers to share posts with their friends who may be interested in your products or promotions, boosting your reach and maximising your sales.
This sharing is also a great example of personalisation, which is going to be something even more crucial to get right as we enter 2016. Targeted marketing is much more cost effective as it is more likely to result in sales. Luckily clienteling solutions make this easier than ever. Not only does clienteling work with your customer information to provide valuable targeted communications, but it can also offer insight into social shares and comments; allowing proactive responses.
Pay Attention to the Millennials
Millennials are shaping the consumer experience as we know it and 2016 is set to be the year of the Millennial customer*. Aged roughly between 20 and 35, they are primarily motivated by social information. They follow people with similar values to themselves or those that they aspire to on social media. The thoughts and opinions of these individuals are important to them and it is easier than ever for consumers to follow their recommendations or style.
Millennials believe that their shopping choices reflect their personality and their values. Everything from the clothes they wear to the gadgets that they own or the car that they drive makes a statement about them and so they are particular about the purchases that they make.
They are also driven by a desire to feel valued and personalisation is vital to them. They like to interact with brands on social media and feel like retailers care about them and their needs. Again clienteling software is crucial to meeting this expectation and ensuring that your store provides the personalised experience that this demographic is seeking.
In 2015 shopping can happen anytime and anywhere thanks to the developments in mobile. This means that if you want to maximise on sales and profits you need your business to be not just online, but also optimised for use on mobile and tablet. If a consumer loads your site on their iPad and it doesn’t work correctly or efficiently enough then chances are they will get frustrated and look elsewhere. It may even put them off looking at your site again in the future. Mobile optimisation doesn’t have to be expensive and will likely pay for itself in increased sales before too long! And remember – adding reviews and a Q&A section to your product pages will help boost those conversions even higher!
It’s not just consumers that are getting mobile either. We have seen an increasing number of retailers benefitting from our mobile POS solution to give customers an enhanced shopping experience. With mobile POS there is no need for fixed till points or queuing. The sales assistants can take their iPad or other mobile device directly to the customer so they can make a purchase anywhere in the store. Email receipts streamline the process even further, ensuring that the transaction is quick and efficient. Mobile POS has been implemented by a number of high profile retailers including Victoria Beckham where it perfectly complements her stylish, sleek and contemporary store.
Ultimately mobile POS is likely to become the standard for bricks and mortar retail and it will be vital to get on board in order to keep up with evolving customer expectations.
The Connected Retail Experience
With brand loyalty swiftly becoming a thing of the past, the only thing that can truly compete with price is the actual shopping experience. The connected retail experience is the blending of your virtual and physical sales channels in order to provide an exceptional experience for customers however and whenever they choose to spend with you.
This requires consistency across all sales channels, including inventory management, promotions, prices and loyalty schemes. It also means that the connected retail experience of ordering online and delivering to home or collecting from a local store needs to be seamless. Efficiency needs to be present at every stage of the purchase and real time stock and promotion information is also to provide this. Again, a great POS system can ensure that your sales team have this knowledge at the touch of a button, giving the consumer as much knowledge in-store as they could gain by going online and helping them make an informed purchase.
It also requires a better understanding of your customers – and yet again, this is where implementing clienteling software will be worth its weight in gold. By understanding your customers you can provide an enhanced level of service. If you know Mr Smith always has his orders delivered to work there is no need for him to give this information again. It may seem a little thing, but they quickly add up to a memorable experience that may prompt a customer to return to shop with you again – and that is the goal of providing a truly connected retail experience.
Thanks to sophisticated retail intelligence software, it is now possible to understand more about every aspect of your business, both in retrospect and in real time. Retail intelligence solutions are capable of analysing multiple sources of information to be analysed and presented simply and effectively.
Some of the benefits of big data include clearer insights on how your business is performing at any given time. Retailers can access this information in real time from any location, meaning you are always in total control. Reports can be customised ensuring that you get your data your way and you can also personalise dashboards to ensure that the elements that are most important to your retail business are available within seconds.
Retail intelligence software also has the ability to send alerts via email or SMS if certain customisable parameters are breached or compromised in any way. This allows retailers to provide urgent responses where needed.
Understanding your business information is critical to success, and the more information at your disposal the better equipped you will be to make informed decisions about your processes and strategies.
As we head into 2016 it is obvious that there is a real risk of some retailers losing their market share to those who are able to create effective strategies that utilise social, mobile and big data to create the extraordinary connected retail experience that is climbing higher and higher in consumers’ expectations. Don’t let your business be one of them. Here at Cegid we strongly recommend all businesses to be proactive and embrace the consumer trends for 2016 now to stay one step ahead.