2019 saw a clear elevation in interesting brand stories, ecommerce advances and increased customer expectations. As brands prepare for 2020, what are the retail trends that will show a significant return in either customer engagement, or customer purchasing habits?
Recent Avionos research confirms heightened customer expectations. Seventy-three percent of online shoppers will avoid brands and retailers after one negative experience. Additionally, they expect more individualization (with 78% reporting they’re more likely to make purchases with companies that better personalize their experiences) and seamless experiences that blend in-store and online features.
To stay in step with the rising demand, here are three trends that smart brands will embrace in the coming year to continue to wow customers:
1. Fail fast and fail forward
Life comes at brands fast—and it’s getting faster. Agility is key in a market where new brands emerge more quickly than ever before. If you’re rolling out new offerings or capabilities once a year, your experience is already stale. As companies test game-changing features like drone delivery, you can’t focus all your efforts on table-stakes features like buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS). You need to be able to develop, test and roll out exciting offerings more frequently: think four to six weeks, not one to two years.
A popular way to engage directly with customers is through social commerce. Posting shoppable products on an Instragram story or feed meets the customer where they are and supports an easy, frictionless buying experience.
Another simple tactic is to test out different promotions per Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, email and the website. Follow the customer behavior, look at the analytics and determine which ones are successful. Testing out new behaviors with easy tactics will allow brands to learn quickly about their customers.
Fail fast, adapt and pivot, which is a much less risky endeavor than investing a year of time in a rollout that falls flat.
2. Personalization that goes beyond the basics
We’ve been talking about personalization for a while, and retailers have been slowly making strides. Still, too many are far behind when it comes to creating individualized experiences, and they’re losing customers because of it. Recent reports show that half of tech spending in retail is going to back-end infrastructure that supports agile strategies and improved personalization tactics. Retailers that fail to make these investments will fall behind fast.
According to Gartner, smart personalization engines will increase customer digital profits by 15%. This means you need to leverage AI technology to improve personalization efforts across every touchpoint a customer has with your brand. Start predicting what customers want based on previous purchases and providing valuable recommendations. Create segmented and targeted campaigns to get the right product to the right customer.
Nike is using customer gathered data that enables customers to design their own shoes in store. This tactic directly lets Nike know which features are more popular and begins a personalized conversation with the customer.
3. Marry the experience of offline into online
The smartest retailers are realizing that to combat Amazon’s hold, they will need to focus on what Amazon doesn’t have… an in-store experience. Creating fun, shoppable vignettes and moments that coincide with big events such as Valentine’s Day, Back to School, Mother’s Day, will not only engage the customer with your brand, but inspire them to come into the store.
A great example of this is Target inviting all Star Wars fans to come into participating locations, enjoy themed treats and see Star Wars toy demos in conjunction with the new movie release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
This tactic bought customers into the store, and ensured sales with fans who wanted the latest themed merchandise. With the right images and the re-use of an event-specific hashtag, the real-life experience will live a longer life with various impressions online. This will provide engaging content, and a brand story that helps merge the virtual into reality.
Determining the right trends for your business and where to prioritize your efforts should support an overall strategy with measurable KPIs. In the end, it’s not always about meeting customer expectations, but re-defining them in a method that builds a lasting relationship with your brand.
Avionos provides digital commerce and marketing services.