By: Phillip Adcock
The retail landscape is constantly changing and the only way that stores can keep up is by constantly evolving. But how?
Modern day consumers use technology in a way that is completely different to consumers earlier in the decade. These changes have altered the way shoppers navigate stores and shop. So how should shops be following these changes — or even anticipating them?
1) Shoppers Are Using Their Phones to Research and Buy Products In-Store
You might think that a customer browsing in your store is giving your products their full attention — but you may be wrong. Many shoppers are combining trips to the store with trips online, comparing and contrasting price and quality. While you can’t always compete with online stores, it’s worth seeing which products are competing with yours.
2) Amazon Dash Has Given Consumers the Ability to Buy with the Push of a Button. How Are You Competing?
Amazon is trying to corner the market in next-day consumables with its new Dash button. A Dash button automatically orders a set product for next-day delivery when pressed, with products ranging from toilet paper to lemonade.
Amazon knows that one of the key things retailers need to do to compete in the current market is to make shopping as quick and easy as possible — and make the process so simple, a child could do it (which is potentially why one of the Dash buttons available orders a round of Play-Doh).
3) Overseas Importers Offer Prices That Are Nearly Impossible to Beat. So What Other Advantages Can You Offer?
One of the main types of retailers you’ll find online in stores such as eBay and Amazon are importers. Importing products from China allows them to source vast quantities of a product extremely cheaply, allowing them to sell at a very low price, with many items at 99p. How can you be expected to compete with those prices?
Answer: you can’t. Rather than cutting your profit margins to try and match importers, make sure your business outshines theirs in ways they can’t hope to compete. Instead, provide services that they cannot, such as fast delivery and great customer service.
4) Modern Shoppers Want to Speak Directly to You as a Company. Are You Easy to Reach?
One of the ways you can offer the level of customer service that modern customers expect is to communicate with them directly on the platforms they use. Consumers now expect to be able to do everything online, so to provide strong customer service, you need to make yourself available to them. Facebook and Twitter make it easy to interact with your customers, but beware: companies can easily fall into traps on social media.
5) Every Store Needs to Have a Mobile and App Equivalent. How Functional Is Yours?
As customers have evolved to be fully phone-reliant, the market for mobile apps and mobile sites has increased. These days, having a website without a mobile equivalent is a foolish move and may lose you sales. A mobile site should be as functional as your regular site and an app should function on a similar level.
6) Virtual Reality Is Growing in Popularity. Are You Ready to Make It Work for You?
IKEA recently launched a new Virtual Reality feature, allowing users of the HTC Vive to explore a kitchen (and throw meatballs into open spaces). Although this particular application is fairly low-function, virtual reality has revived and is well on its way to being the big sales tool of 2017 and beyond. Do you have the ability to allow your customers to use VR to interact with your store in a meaningful way? Whether it’s navigating a virtual store or trying out new furniture in an existing space, virtual reality is set to become a staple.
7) Free Delivery: A New Standard
One thing that stores forget is that yesterday’s exception becomes today’s norm and tomorrow’s rule. As consumers become more and more used to convenience, what would have seemed exceptional when online shopping began — for example, free next-day shipping — becomes expected. Shoppers will now potentially abandon a sale because of a lack of next-day shipping and will frequently choose a deal containing free shipping, even if it works out to be more expensive.
It’s worth remembering that consumers love the word “free”. Whether it’s “free shipping” or “buy one get one free”, shoppers will always gravitate towards those deals.
It’s hard sometimes to keep up with new retail developments. If you’re concerned about being left behind, remember: what consumers want, and have always wanted, are high-quality products for prices that are good value. Although it is beneficial to follow the latest technological trends, providing value for money is, and always will be, the best way to appeal to your customers.
About the Author: Phillip Adcock is the founder and Managing Director of the shopper research agency Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd — an organisation using consumer insight to explain and predict retail shopper behaviour. SBXL operates in seventeen countries for hundreds of clients including Mars, Tesco and B&Q.