There are many interesting retail trends in 2014 that will greatly impact the retail landscape. The following is our list of the top four trends that forward-looking merchants will be watching and testing.
Mobile Commerce Growth
In 2014, more business is being done through electronic and mobile platforms. The Millennials, a consumer base predicted to represent 30% of total retail sales by 2020, have shown a clear preference for electronic commerce. In fact, over two thirds of UK current bank account holders would prefer to use online or mobile apps rather than going in branch.
Smaller, independent merchants around the world have found success with implementing mobile payment through Square, a mobile payment wallet recently valued at $5 billion. Merchants see the mobile wallet as the most exciting evolution in payment technology and are putting it on the forefront of their innovation plans in 2014. With merchants like department store Macy’s already testing Google Wallet in-store, can you afford to ignore this trend?
Improved Social Media Standards
Most merchants have been using social media for many years as a marketing and customer service tool. In 2014, merchants will be following the online trail left by their online customers to better understand how to serve them.
Targeted Marketing Customers
Millennials in particular, are demanding more custom marketing solutions, and it is no longer acceptable to use social media like a traditional push marketing medium. Nestlé Purina Pet Care regularly connects with pet owners on Twitter by replying to pet-related tweets and sending pet owners resources that are more informative than promotional. Customers expect offers and information to be customized for their readership. When they have questions, they expect quick, personal responses rather than a canned answer, especially as more customers migrate to mobile channels to connect with brands.
“The squeaky wheel gets greased.” While customer service has been focused on responding immediately to complaints posted through social media, it’s important to treat all customer service channels with the same level of immediacy and consistency. Customers waiting for resolution to their phone, mail, or email inquiries should not have to wait until social media inquiries get serviced first.
Social media can build or destroy customer loyalty. The best practitioners have a vision for all their customer interactions and are transparent about their business. Those brands are winning and will continue to win in 2014.
Customers Expect Customization
Customers are no longer satisfied with a one size fits all solution. In 2014, not only do customers want a custom fit, but they want the entire purchase experience to be tailored to them.
Consumers expect more customization in 2014 and they will not expect to pay a significant premium for this. Loblaws offers No Name, President’s Choice and Blue Menu product lines, which are comparable or less than the national brand, in order to address different consumer needs. Nike ‘s NIKEid service allows customers to customize products across their line without a significant upcharge. Whether it’s through a multi-tier private label offering or giving customers the ability to build a made-to-order product, customization allows retailers to profit from individual tastes.
Whether it is in your bricks and mortar location or online, consumers expect services to be unique to their needs. In store, the omni-channel marketing trend will continue. A custom experience could include product trial and testing, service, showrooming, Wi-Fi or even sending offers directly to their mobile device based on time spent in an area of the store. Consumers want to have fun while they shop, and it is the merchant’s challenge to make this a reality.
Consumers expect to be able to navigate your site and to receive real time communication from you while on your site. Whether this is through tracking what they have looked at, suggesting items to go with those in their cart, instant offers while they are shopping, or through online chats with a service representative, consumers expect you to speak directly to them.
Custom Delivery Options
How the product gets to the consumer must be customized as well. From home delivery to in-store pick up, consumers expect more choice and convenience than ever before.
Power of Millennials
The power of Millennials is being felt throughout all business categories. As the Millennials move towards their peak earning years, businesses are changing their models to accommodate the Millennials’ unique demands, such as personalization, transparency, and added value. Recognizing the influence of Millennials and meeting their demands can drive an exponential increase in your business and lay the groundwork for longer term success.
By watching and testing some of these trends over the coming year, merchants can expect 2014 to be one of constant innovation and growth.