It feels like the summer holidays began yesterday, yet pencil cases are already being packed and uniforms adorned for another school year. Learning shouldn’t be the privilege of the classroom alone, however; no matter how old we are, or how experienced, the world around us is evolving – especially in retail.
We’re operating at a faster pace than ever before, with consumers changing not just their minds, but their entire behavior patterns, in the blink of an eye. In fact, already in 2015 we’ve seen a number of trading trends that will impact retailers’ relationships with their customers.
So to get into the new school year spirit, I’ve put together a short ‘back to school boot camp’, with our top tips for ensuring customer loyalty in the months ahead.
Lesson #1 – mobile is changing the game (for more than just payments)
The UK launch of Apple Pay may not have disrupted the way consumers transact in the dramatic fashion Apple hoped, but it has marked a new era for mobile. The past 18 months have seen the rise of the ecommerce mobile shopper; now retailers must adapt to the store mobile shopper.
This isn’t simply a case of installing mobile wallet-friendly technology; our favorite device is going to change other bricks-and-mortar interaction channels, such as driving digital loyalty in the store environment.
Lesson #2 – your brand name won’t carry you anymore
A recent study by Kantar Worldpanel pointed out that clothes shoppers aren’t swayed by the label like they used to be, and in fact some brands are struggling to attract customers on name alone.
This is a salient warning to retail brands in all sectors – you must get your product, price and customer service right, because that’s what customer retention is built on in 2015.
Lesson #3 – convenience is king
Right across Europe, and in the UK in particular, we’ve seen a rise in convenience shopping, with more retailers investing in small format stores.
This is part of a wider need for businesses to realize that time is consumers’ most precious currency, and implement digital technologies in store to speed up the purchasing process.
Lesson #4 – the store can do more
The store has risen like a phoenix from the ecommerce flames in today’s omnichannel shopping environment; digital interactions are actually driving consumers toward bricks-and-mortar – either to make a purchase after researching online, or to pick up a click-and-collect order. Indeed, Mintel expects click-and-collect traffic to rise to 17% this year.
However, the store is still the least adaptable, most anonymous part of the connected retail journey, with many customers feeling let down by the impersonal experience they receive.
It’s something we’re going to be talking about in greater depth over the next few weeks, but it is worth concluding with this guidance: to equal the convenience and adaptability of online shopping, the store must work harder to attract, convert and retain customers. This can be achieved most seamlessly through the effective implementation of in-store technology.