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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.

*****

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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In-store Displays

Shopping mall with signs and stores-Featured

E-commerce and online shopping may be the hot channels getting the majority of media coverage these days, but cultivating engaging in-store experiences for customers is one of the most important keys to continuing to drive growth in brick-and-mortar revenue.

That’s according to FierceRetail’s Jacqueline Renfrow, who cites new research which suggests that in-store displays, decorations, and promotions all critically contribute to both shoppers’ preference for brick-and-mortar shopping, as well as up to 54% of in-store impulse buys.

The research, which surveyed over 11,000 consumers in the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia, found that promotional displays and in-store visuals not only create a more pleasant shopping atmosphere for customers, but allow stores to create their own unique brand identities and help put consumers in the “mood” to shop there. In fact, 54% of U.S. shoppers reported that in-store promotions are the “biggest influence on their impulse buys,” while 37% of U.S. shoppers cited a store’s ability to make them “feel in the right mood” as their biggest impulse buy driver.

people walking in the mall - retail continuity

But it’s not just promotions that allow retailers to make their in-store experiences stand out to customers. In-store visuals, like displays, end caps, standing booths, hanging decorations, branded apparel, and print materials all contribute heavily to the atmosphere of a store, and 70% of consumers surveyed reported that those visuals help them “connect to the brand.” Further, a full 84% of consumers claimed that said visuals make the in-store shopping experience “more enjoyable.”

In fact, when a store adds marketing materials to the in-store experience like smells and visuals, 59% of U.S. shoppers surveyed are more like to revisit that store. That number leaps to 72% for shoppers ages 18-24, and those same Millennial shoppers reported being 60% more likely to shop for longer each time they visit.

As Renfrow explains, even in an omnichannel world, each specific channels has its advantages and appeals. For the brick-and-mortar channel, the appeals are ancient: instant gratification, and overall entertainment. Yes, we may have grown beyond our teenage years, loitering at the local mall, but the fact remains that in-store shopping is still a form of entertainment for most of us, and we reward those brands that invest in creating a dynamic, entertaining in-store experience with our hard-earned dollars.

“Consumers, particularly younger consumers, aren’t just buying a product when in-store; they’re buying an experience. And their expectations for a positive, emotionally engaging experience are quite high. Those businesses who deliver an elevated customer experience witness greater repeat visits, a greater number of recommendations, and longer in-store dwell times,” says Scott Moore, global vice president of marketing at Mood Media.

And while crafting these compelling in-store experiences is crucial to retail marketing success, they require a highly-optimized and efficient supply chain to ensure each promotional material arrives on-time, in-place, and on-budget. Further, companies need to have insight into which marketing materials are actually driving revenue, and which are detracting from their carefully cultivated brand image. The proper in-store marketing materials are powerful; the wrong materials are ineffective and overpriced, and the right materials delivered too late are worthless.

Brands that take their in-store promotional and visual materials seriously stand to claim a powerful advantage over their competition, and those that understand, prioritize, and optimize their marketing supply chain can realize unprecedented 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