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2019 Retail Trends: Transactional to Relational

female using interactive screen to customize shopping

As the world changes, so does customer behavior. And as customer behavior changes, the ways they want to shop do, too. And perhaps no industry needs to remain more on top of shifting customer trends and behaviors than retail.

Retail, which has already been turned upside-down by the advent of e-commerce, now must adapt to whatever 2019 has in store. With U.S. retail sales up 5.9% in 2018 from a record mark of $5.7 trillion in 2017, retail brands will need to stay sharp to keep growing. According to Daphne Leprince-Ringuet of WIRED, here are some key trends retailers should consider when looking towards the future.

Sustainability Will Be Important to Shoppers

From “hippies” to countercultural “hipsters,” environmental responsibility and sustainability have always been important to certain shopping demographics in society. But in 2019, ecological sustainability will become a major selling point for brands and retailers looking to see a little more “green” themselves. Leprince-Ringuet cites the example of British luxury fashion brand Elvis & Kresse, which reclaims thousands of tons of out-of-service fire hoses in London each year, repurposing and recycling the hose leather to create new premium goods.

“We live in the age of the circular economy, recycling materials instead of letting them go to waste at the end of their life,” Leprince-Ringuet says. “It’s [already] an upcoming trend in retail.” Brands that can position themselves as environmentally sustainable could bolster their profits, too.

shop with digital network graphics - retail continuity

Removing Friction with Strategic Partnerships

With competition stiffer than it’s ever been, and most markets increasingly saturated with choices, brands will need to continue to compete on the strength of their customer experiences – not just on price and product. In fact, a recent PwC study found that consumers will spend an average of 16% more for a better retail customer experience. And that may mean exploring new strategic partnerships for many brands. “Everything we do needs to be done for the customer, to remove friction – whether that means integrating Google Pay, or working with [partners] to develop technologies we don’t have the capacity to work on ourselves,” says Cliff Cohen, Chief Information Officer at ASOS.

What other sorts of “frictionless” experiences will customers expect?

  • “Invisible” payment. Look at Uber. With payment linked directly to customers’ credit cards, users never even think about paying for their ride. It’s taken care of automatically. And that removes part of the friction that makes Uber so attractive compared to, say, going to an ATM and calling a taxi.
  • Multichannel experiences. Today, customers expect brands to recall the entire history of that shopper’s interaction with them and be able to offer them promotions, coupons, and suggestions based on that personal history. And if your brand can’t do this today? Partner with someone who can. Citing one retailer’s strategic CX goals, Leprince-Ringuet says, “The technology is beyond the retailer’s technical capacity, so the company has teamed up with [a strategic partner] – all with the goal of making the customer experience better.”
  • Third-party payment. Not unlike “invisible” payment, millennial consumers are increasingly comfortable storing their payment information with a third-party and allowing that third party to provide that information when they “pay” for things, like Mint and Apple Wallet. This functionality can help make your brand stand out from the crowd.

Physical Stores Becoming Experience Centers with Innovation

With the online purchasing process faster by-and-large than in-store for many brands these days, brick-and-mortar stores are shifting to effectively occupy a new role: experience centers, where customers can touch, try, taste, and be tempted by your products in person. “Future retail is moving from transactional to relational,” says Emilie Colker, Executive Director at IDEO. “Brands will use the offline space to create more opportunities for people to connect with the products.”

For many brands that were once digital-only, like by-mail eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker or online mattress retailer Casper, creating physical spaces for shoppers to interact with their products adds authenticity to their brand’s perception, and is a clever way to create customer experiences that they just can’t replicate online. And to succeed with experience centers, retailers need to be agile, flexible, and ready to innovate. “In the current climate, speed matters,” says Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud. “Tools that can give retailers insight into inventories, financial forecasts, technological skill,” anything that helps create a single point of visibility into marketing supply chains will be tremendously helpful.

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Yes, retail is changing.

But by understanding the most important retail trends before they happen, and by establishing partnerships that prepare your brand for success, companies of all sizes can make 2019 their most successful year yet.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Print is Winning Millennials’ Trust: Here’s How You Can Maximize Engagement With Print

Millennials are set to become the single largest demographic of American consumers by the end of the decade. It means that within just a few short years, they will also be the largest audience that marketers will need to engage to maintain their market share, keep profits high, and establish lasting brand loyalty.

And despite the image many marketers have of millennials as a digitally-obsessed, online-only audience, print marketing is a surprisingly, especially effective means of engagement for a number of reasons. That’s according to Heather Fletcher of Target Marketing, who explains the hows and whys of engaging millennials with print marketing materials.

colorful printed books - print strikes back

Print Marketing Builds Trust with Millennials

Millennials are a transactional demographic. They believe that their relationship with a brand should be far more quid pro quo than blindly accepting the only available option. Put simply: millennials expect more value from brands than other demographics, and print marketing is an effective way to deliver value to them. “When markets provide useful content – and millennials value branded print ads more than other generations – consumers will remember it and turn to the print marketing when they’re ready to buy,” Fletcher explains. Unlike digital touchpoints like banner ads and emails, print marketing materials are far more memorable.

Fletcher suggests the following strategies for print marketing to millennials:

      1. Educational Content. Whether these are product how-tos or informative infographics, your print marketing materials should provide real educational value to your millennial audience that goes beyond just telling them where to buy your products.
      2. Use and Idea Suggestion Guides. Like the fashion “look books” that have become so popular with millennials, think of these as a type of recipe book for your product or solution. Show millennials exactly how your product can be used in their lives. Help them envision it with your print materials.
      3. Value-Adding Promotions. Things like personalized coupons or discount flyers add a real, tangible dollar value to your print materials that resonate with millennials.
female frustrated - digital fatigue

Print Marketing Overcomes Millennial Digital Fatigue

Millennials may be the most digitally-connected demographic, but that doesn’t mean that digital is the only way to engage them. As Daniel Dejan explains, “With all of these devices (most people own at least three), we reach the point of monitor fatigue. It is an actual physiological symptom where between looking at a computer, constantly checking your phone, possibly having your tablet on at the same time, going home and turning on the TV, playing games, etc… The brain reaches a point of saturation.

And when it does, it can no longer take in any more.” And that, Dejan says, is why even younger demographics seek out printed materials. In fact, a recent study found that 92% of college students surveyed prefer reading in print over any form of digital media. As a marketer, if you’re concerned about a heavily saturated market and finding a way to stand out above the noise, print materials are a clever, cost-effective, and popular channel to engage millennials.

Print Marketing to Millennials Boosts the Effectiveness and Attribution of Other Channels

Most millennials live on their devices. It’s where they’re comfortable. So many savvy brands are using print marketing to improve their digital attribution by leveraging direct mail with custom product URLs and discount codes printed on the mailers. When a shopper visits that tracked URL, or enters that specific discount code, the marketing teams knows for a fact that it was the print marketing material that drove them there. 

“So in an industry that’s become addicted to attributing sales to the ‘last click’ – even if that’s an in-store transaction – marketing professionals may gain insight into touchpoints via consumer engagement from print marketing,” Fletcher explains. What’s more, many CMOs are using print marketing to engage the portions of their millennial audience that digital channels are failing to reach.

“Direct mail has expanded many brands’ reach and relieved the pressure on email campaigns,” Fletcher says, citing a specific client case study. “Only 40 percent of customers subscribe [to their email newsletter] during the checkout process. Today, they are using print inserts and mailers to reach the remaining 60 percent, and it has made a big difference.” Whether they’re reviewing catalogs before purchasing online, applying discount codes from direct mailers to their online shopping carts, or recalling your brand from your unique print marketing materials, print marketing improves both the attribution and the effectiveness of all your customer channels.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE

Future Focus: How Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Can Shift for Success

arrow with success

Far from making brick-and-mortar retail spaces obsolete, the explosion of e-commerce has simply reshaped, and repurposed, the ideal deployment and leverage of retail spaces. That’s according to Alexandra Sheehan on Shopify, who explains that despite the looming challenges of evolving technology, increasing competition, and changing consumer behaviors, smart brands can plan for these changes and create opportunities from them by “future-proofing” their businesses. Let’s take a look at a few key areas poised for forward-looking success.

In-Store Experiences: Driving More Sales

In-store experiences – that is, creating fully immersive multisensory displays that engage with your customers – are becoming increasingly important for multichannel retailers.

“Unique store experiences give shoppers a compelling reason to visit a location and engage with a brand,” Sheehan explains. Beyond the normal value-adding propositions of promotional marketing materials, unique in-store experiences help drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar stores and more revenue through your physical channels. They are a clever way to diversify your revenue streams across a multichannel business model.

What’s more, they create an immersive “identity” for your brand, one that sticks with customers and contributes enormously to brand loyalty. The ability to quickly create dynamic in-store experiences that change to fit your marketing messaging and brand identity will set retailers apart.

three female shoppers-retail

In-Store Events: A Marketing Bonanza

Hosting in-store events are becoming an increasingly popular – and effective – way to increase foot traffic and buzz around brick-and-mortar stores. Fitness apparel retailers, such as Lululemon, have begun hosting yoga classes, complete with branded giveaway mats and water bottles. Anthropologie, the apparel and home goods retailer, hosts pop-up “markets” in its stores and provides shoppers with free, branded tote bags.

The key to the future of physical retail is creating value that online shopping can’t offer. With an agile and reliable marketing supply chain to make sure everything arrives on time, on price, and goes off without a hitch, in-store events are a great way to do just that.

New Customer Behaviors, New Possibilities

One of the most unique phenomena of the age of digital commerce is the rise of “showrooming.” Showrooming is the practice of visiting a brick-and-mortar store to see or interact with a product with the intention of buying it online later.

This requires a fundamental re-thinking of best practices for in-store marketing materials and displays. Before e-commerce, with physical as the only or primary channel, it was important to devote floor space to as many of your available products as possible, and to make that space easily navigable. Now, with digital analytics, creating high-conversion, engaging, narrative in-store displays for the most in-demand, best-selling, or highest profit-margin products can lead to greater revenue and marketing ROI. Brands must invest the time, effort, and resources towards understanding these new and changing marketing best practices, because they truly are an investment in ongoing future success.

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE