Today’s consumer is savvy, likes to feel special and expects things to be quick. Americans especially don’t have the time or patience to expect anything but the best when they are shopping. The retail industry is evolving, and knowing your customer is more important than ever before. Here's a list of the top 10 retail trends on the market today.
1. Bigger isn’t better
Big-name retailers are just not keeping up with the smaller stores. Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penny used to be household names, and now they are quickly becoming yesterday’s news. Experts cite that shopping experiences and online retailers are to blame for the mass-closings. Tiny stores and pop-up shops are on the rise and showing no signs of slowing down.
You can pretty much buy anything these days, and at any time. To make gifts count and purchases more unique, many consumers are turning to personalized items. Everything from monogrammed necklaces to naming your own star and turning it into a photo are standing out among traditional gifts. With consumers having access to the internet 24/7, making a gift stand out is becoming the norm - hence, shops like Etsy that are all about unique, customizable gifts.
3. Selling a lifestyle is just as important as selling a brand
Retail marketing is becoming stronger at capturing the customer’s attention by selling an experience vs. a product. Consumers need to imagine themselves in a shirt, with a purse, or even eating a specific food to gain buy-in from retailers. The goal of course is to build lifelong customers that envision their lives aligning with the lifestyle, and not just the product itself. When brands accomplish this and do it well, the customer's shopping choices then become an integral part of their personal life (as opposed to just another item on a shelf).
4. Data = more money
Capturing information during the checkout process is not new news. But, really diving into consumer patterns and behaviors and integrating that into the shopping experience is. Companies are realizing now more than ever that past purchases can influence future ones and knowing their customer more will definitely equate to more money and spending the money to get that crucial info.
Have you ever seen the kiosk stands in Walgreens that let you stand on the platform, then it analyzes your foot shape for the perfect orthotic for you? Or, have you seen the dressing rooms with specific “daytime” and “nighttime” lighting so you can envision yourself wherever it is you are going in the specific outfit you’re wearing? These are examples of how technology can help deliver a personal experience that will hopefully convert to more sales.
Amazon Fresh, Instacart, and Peapod are just a few examples of online grocery retailers that are flourishing. Even grocery brick-and-mortar stores are turning to online delivery in larger cities, by creating their own online delivery systems. Convenience is proving to be key here, with many of the online grocery stores even remembering the customer’s previous orders so re-ordering is easy and fast.
7. Influencer marketing
Some Instagram stars make up-to six-figures from a single post! While that’s not the norm, there are many pseudo-celebs who are making a lot of money by posting an image with a specific retail product - and retailers are shelling out big $ for these posts. This goes back to line item #3, which is selling a lifestyle more than a brand.
8. Niche retailers on the rise
While the “one-stop-shop” big-name retailers are slowing down, it’s no wonder the targeted niche retailers are on the rise. It’s better to be an expert in one thing than mediocre in several. Expect many more stores to come to market that feature specific items that cater to a set group of consumers.
9. In-store experiences crucial
Customer service needs to work the customer from the moment they walk in, to the check-out time and beyond. Customers have literally millions of other places to take their business if the experience is slow, not personal and doesn’t suit their needs. Especially at check-out - the sale system better be fast, because people literally do not have time these days to wait in line. When a customer experiences positivity in a store, they are much more likely of course to return.
10. Loyalty programs
Incentivizing customers is so crucial and not an “extra” thing anymore - it’s expected. If a customer likes your product, returns to your store several times and doesn’t get something in return...they will find somewhere else to take their shopping. Every nail salon, almost every restaurant, and most of the big-name retailers are providing rewards for consumers. This goes back to the customer wanting to feel special - even if it’s a small reward, reminding the customer that they are “$X away from a free X”, it matters!