Retail Industry: Trends, Insights, and Best Practices

When we ponder the traditional shopping experience, we realize how far we have come in the customer service with the developments in the retail industry. These evolutions came into the picture not only because of the technological advancements, but the radical changes in our thoughts, behavior, and decision-making towards shopping also brought them in. Today’s retail is aimed to serve the consumers in the most convenient ways. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” neither retailers like to say this nor customers like to hear this. Thus, the retail industry embraces advanced technologies and wows the customers with innovative options, widgets, and other means. Today’s customers demand that retailers should be able to immediately fulfill as well as predict their needs. With current trends in the industry, this transformation is possible.

Trends

When it comes to the shopping trends, Amazon appears as a game changer. It offers exceptional services to the customers such as member discounts and same-day delivery. Its great customer services, competitive pricing, and reliable user reviews and support are well-known worldwide. Amazon’s new feature Echo (Alexa) is trending these days, which makes shopping virtually effortless. Echo knows the customers’ buying history and preferences based on which Alexa offers daily promotions and special deals.

Although online shopping is getting popular, brick and mortar shops still stay relevant. Many shoppers want to try the products hands-on before they buy. These customers can be found searching “locations near me” online. Therefore, brands are expanding their stores to the new locations. Moreover, Location based targeting is dominating in the retail. Geo-fencing and Geo-targeting use GPS to send out push notifications and messages to those who have the apps downloaded. For instance, as soon as you arrive in the parking lot, you get a tailored message from the nearest store. Geo-fencing is like location-based advertising irrespective of the customers’ interests, while Geo-targeting involves different interests and needs to target users.

Virtual shopping is what shoppers are waiting for. The retailers will cater holograms and virtual reality displays, enhancing the in-store experience. It would be amazing to try on an outfit in the virtual environment without changing clothes. The retailers will provide GPS tracking for shipping or delivery. Using GPS tracker, customers will get to know exactly where their product is on the route. The retailers are encouraging consumers to post reviews for the products they are purchasing. For a reason, new buyers rely on the product reviews more and trust in the consumers’ community.

Insights

A report says that almost seven in ten get influenced by their friends’ social media posts; 83 percent people trust recommendations from their family and peers. They discover the products online before going out to the shop. Therefore, the retailers need to create a seamless chain between online and on-site shopping. Virtual reality, social shopping, and other services can help consumers find the product, access reviews, and locate stores to buy.

Best Practices

The retail sector requires deploying the best practices to cope with the advancements. These different practices are applied in different phases— before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale.

Front door analytics are needed to understand the traffic and demographics. In this phase, retailers should capture conversion rates, the frequency of visit, and duration of visit for every store hourly. The staff selection should be based on traffic or transactions, and the staff scheduling should be based on the data from interaction analysis. Traffic type (first-time visitors or repeat customers) also can be analyzed before the sale.

The traditional purchase experience was controlled by retailers’ systems (call forwarding system) during the sale. But today customers control the purchase experience with online payments, mobile POS, and mobile payments. The retailers should give a reason to visit the store that can lead to customer satisfaction. Also, asking for feedback helps in building good rapport and gaining insights.

After the sale strategies play the crucial role in building brands. There are lots of ways available that can be utilized for customer retention such as social media, CRM system, and Email marketing. Rather than offering discount coupons with low conversions and thin margins, retailers should focus on delivering offers based on customers’ profiles and purchase history. These offers should be delivered through customers’ preferences (Email, mobile, etc.), and develop a very personal customer experience.

New formats for the stores are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI), helping the retail industry to gain more insights. With video analytics, the retailers can understand the shopping flow, such as how customers shop and engage with the products. Customers look for the value and variety of the products and experience the speed and ease of checkout at the stores, whether it is online or offline. No wonder, the retailers who accept more payment methods get the attention of more customers.

Along with the developments in technology, marketing processes are getting refined and automated. Marketing automation has the entire pipeline to convert a visitor into a customer and consequently to generate more revenue. The retail industry can use these processes to resolve the complexities of consumers’ behavior, making it easier to predict their needs. The focus, which is majorly on providing sophisticated customer service, should equally be of customer satisfaction by providing convenience.