Consumer behavior is constantly changing, but the outbreak of COVID-19 has accelerated this evolution like never before. Whether it’s increased use of e-commerce, a spike in-home delivery, rapid adoption of curbside pickup, the rise of contactless payment, or numerous other changes in their behavior, shoppers have quickly adapted to the “new normal.” At the same time, retailers have been forced to adapt on the emerging retail trends. Moving forward, many will invest in their technology infrastructure to ensure they can adapt over the long term, implementing ad-hoc changes on an ongoing basis to continue meeting customer demand wherever and whenever they choose to shop. In addition, reinvention of the physical store will be at the heart of the new customer experience.
Here are 7 emerging retail trends that are essential for specialty retailers to master to differentiate themselves in today’s complex and highly competitive retail industry.
Savvy retailers understand the need to leverage technology to achieve hyper-personalization. The omnichannel approach to customer engagement is key to surviving and thriving amidst changing consumer behaviors and shopping trends.
A smarter, insights-led, and solutions-driven approach to customer engagement involves:
- Ensure that customers are profiled based on their preferences and affinities and that messages reflect these in terms of content, consistency, and delivery.
- Fine-tuned and tailored messages based on micro-moments, user events, and any other elements that might influence customer response or increase engagement.
- Employing deep-level personalization of retailer communication and customer experience at all levels of the customer lifecycle, with all channels fully integrated and a consistent customer experience.
- Most importantly, adopting a single customer engagement technology platform enables a single view of each customer rather than multiple perspectives (in-store, online, etc.) and omnichannel interaction with the right message and promotions at the right time and on the right channel.
ChainDrive’s insights-led customer engagement platform enables retailers to implement customer onboarding, engagement, retention, and growth strategies.
2. Seamless Cross-Channel Customer Journeys
Digital sales continue to grow across the industry. Open lines of communication between your eCommerce site and your in-store team are an approach to ensure this consistency across channels.
This means information is accessible in real-time and across all technology platforms that manage online and in-store activities. To ensure they are meeting the needs of these rapidly growing digital consumers, retailers have been investing heavily in the digital infrastructure and experiential technology required to succeed in the digital space.
Contactless Fulfillment –As COVID-19 brought on a boom in e-commerce, shoppers simultaneously demanded contactless fulfillment. Many shoppers, and employees, did not want human interaction when transferring orders. Savvy retailers rolled out curbside pickup, contactless home delivery, and contactless payment technology faster than anyone thought possible to meet this new shopper habit.
Micro Fulfillment – Micro-fulfillment refers to placing small-scale, automated warehouses accessible in urban or suburban locations closer to the customer to improve delivery times. When a customer submits an online order, their products are automatically picked, packed, and ready for pick up within minutes, or they can be delivered within an hour. Technology is integral to every aspect of automated micro-fulfillment.
Frictionless Checkout- Frictionless checkout allows retailers to extend operating hours, enhance store operations, and deploy stores closer to customers, whenever and wherever they need them.
3. Experiential Retail
Experiential retailing is a great way to engage with customers beyond just selling products. Retailers today are coming up with innovative ways to attract customers into the store not only through their products but also through the experience they provide in-store. Whether it’s entertainment, social interaction, discovery, convenience, in-store events to demo new products or teach customers about hidden features, if you can identify what your brand can offer customers that they can’t get anywhere else, you can build an experience around that and separate brick-and-mortar operation from the pack. When you give customers a fun, immersive experience that they can share and they can’t get it at home or on their phones. It leads to positive associations with the brand and more money spent. In-store tech also plays a vital role in encouraging customers to enter the store. For example, Customers may spend more time viewing and engaging with holographic 3D display systems.
4. Inventory Localization
There is an emerging trend where retailers begin to tailor their product catalog to the immediate community around them. Customers highly value personalized recommendations from retailers, and the in-store product offerings need to reflect those personalized recommendations that a customer can see online. Technologies such as endless aisle and drop shipping solutions reduce the risk of not stocking products that suit every consumer while still offering what locals would buy.
Retailers who engage in inventory “localization” can sell more merchandise and achieve higher profit margins. To achieve this new standard, retailers need a robust inventory management system in place, as well as reporting and analytics to track what items are sold at which store location. These reports should include sales made through interactive touchscreens or mobile point-of-sale systems, as they can help identify trends by location.
5. Detailed Product Information
it is the expertise of the staff and the customer experience they provide. In order for staff to deliver the shopping experience that customers are looking for in a specialty store, they must have in-depth product information. This starts with training and having staff who share the customers’ passion for the product, and is facilitated in-store by making information available, ideally through a mobile point-of-sale device, so that the discussion can take place right next to the customer in the aisle.
6. In-depth Analytics
In order to implement appropriate marketing strategies, including loyalty programs and promotional offers, specialty retailers need to fully understand their customers. This requires a detailed analysis of data, including shopping and spending patterns, the impact of seasonal factors, products purchased together, and demographics. With this level of understanding, specialty retailers can develop marketing plans that increase sales and customer loyalty.
7. Supply Chain and Operational Resilience
As digital sales continue to grow, the last-mile supply chain has become increasingly essential, and retailers are investing in fundamental capabilities to ensure products reach consumers quickly and efficiently. Today, forward-thinking retailers are allocating critical funds to strengthen their distributed order management, returns management, real-time inventory visibility, drop-shipment management, and warehouse management capabilities.
Collaboration between consumer-packaged-goods (CPG) manufacturers and retailers will enable better planning, improve forecasting, facilitate trade program execution and compliance, enable better in-stock conditions, improve communication between retailers and CPG manufacturers, and bring new innovations to the digital or physical shelves more quickly.
Specialty retailers who stay on top of these emerging retail trends will be able to offer a more personalized shopping journey in terms of customer service, in-store experience, inventory, and seamless delivery. Not only do your customers want it, but they expect it. With the right retail technology and processes in practice, you’re sure to surprise and delight every shopper who enters your store.
Whether you are eyewear, electronics, or any other specialty retailer, ChainDrive delivers retail management tools to help you effectively manage your unique and diversified product assortment, streamline operations, improve customer service, and increase sales and profit.
If you want to learn more about how to use personalization as a tool to delight customers during their shopping journey? Request a free demo with ChainDrive retail specialists who can advise you on how you can grow your business.