Retail is an ever changing industry that can be hard to keep up with. Find out what the top 5 investments that retailers are making in 2018 are, here.
We’re only a month into 2018, and it’s already a race to the finish line. Which retailers will win this year? Read below to explore the top five investments retailers are making in 2018 to get ahead of the competition, and finish first in the eyes of their customers.
1. Bringing tech into stores
Whether you’re a legacy brand or an up-and-coming cult brand, everyone is trying to win millennials’ business and loyalty. One way brands are beginning to do this is by leveraging tech in stores, and I have seen no one do this better than L.A. based, eco-friendly brand The Reformation. Let me tell you about my recent experience at their new, high-tech concept store on Bond Street in New York City.
Upon entering the store, a giant video screen with a model dancing in Reformation clothing will immediately get your attention, as will the number of flat screen, touch-screen TVs that adorn the walls. You’ll immediately be greeted by organized racks of crisp clothes, and an associate who will explain to you how the store works.
You add items to your fitting room directly by utilizing the touch screens throughout the store. It’s a very familiar, online shopping experience that is delivered directly in-store. Curious about material or hemline? Go ahead and touch the product on the rack, but no need to carry the clothes in your arms. The associates also love this because it makes it easy to deliver exceptional in-store customer service.
Once your fitting room is ready, an associate is alerted and brings you to your high-tech dressing room, where you can plug in your phone to play your Spotify playlist on dressing room speakers, adjust the lighting options in the room, or use the mini touch-screen to add more items to your dressing room. You can also check out directly from this screen.
Oh and did I mention, the clothes are put into a personal wardrobe in the dressing room via a back door, so upon requesting new items to try on, they will simply appear before your eyes in your wardrobe! Talk about surprise and delight…
Not all retailers are able to build storefronts like this at speed or scale, but for a brand like Reformation that has several stores in the NYC area, the shoppers that prefer a seamless, high-tech experience can have that at the one Bond Street location that is designed like this.
The key takeaway? A personalized, seamless customer experience is a must.
2. Delivering truly personalized experiences
With companies like Spotify or Netflix that provide consumers with one-to-one recommendations and personalized streaming experiences every day, the consumer has developed a broader expectation for personalized content from brands.
While not every brand is ready to dive headfirst in to machine learning and AI, segmentation of consumers on a more granular level can power personalized messages that drive significant results.
Netflix for example, has “abandoned geographic segmentation and now divides its 93 million global users into 1,300 “taste communities” with similar movie and TV show preferences, making recommendations based on what’s popular in those communities.”
If a retailer were to adopt a similar approach, perhaps it would be segmenting consumers into “personal style communities.” At Jebbit, the way some of our brand partners are doing this is by asking people to declare their preferences via interactive lookbooks, style finders, and gift guides. Understanding shoppers’ wardrobe color palette (neutrals, blacks and blues, bright colors, patterns, etc.), as well as fit preferences and typical daily attire has allowed our brand partners to segment on a truly granular level.
3. Flexible fulfillment
Convenience is key. Brands that are winning have made getting their products to the consumer easier than ever before: Order online, pick up in store; Order online, return in store; Order in store, have delivered to door; Order online, return online…
The list goes on and on, but as brands focus on delivering a consistent experience online, in-store, in-app and so on, flexible fulfilment becomes a significant part of that strategy.
Take Sam’s Club for example. The membership-only club offers Club Pickup, a free service that lets members order online from the club nearest to them, and then schedule a pick-up at their convenience.
Nordstrom has historically delivered on convenience for its shoppers, too. Not only can you expect a seamless and amazing service experience purchasing online or in store, but returns are consistently known to be hassle-free.
With so many options for consumers, brands in 2018 will need to make their offerings easily accessible and convenient.
4. Reorienting focus on loyalty over acquisition
I recently read a report that highlighted a stat that legitimately shocked me: In a recent study, only 6% of shoppers admitted they chose an item primarily because of price.
The takeaway? Experience wins. Per the Forsee report, “Environment and findability rank as the top priorities for both in-store and digital purchasers.”
As you can imagine, consumers keep going back to buy from the same that consistently delivers on a great experience. So what does this all mean? Loyalty matters most for a brand’s bottom line. In fact, “45% of buyers across channels say their most recent purchase was driven mostly by retailer preference, and more than 75% say they shop at a preferred set of retailers.” So, while acquisition is certainly important, brands must shift their focus to retaining their most valuable customers.
More and more brands are investing in better understanding their consumers, so they can deliver on those shopping experience expectations, and generate more lifetime value from the shoppers they acquire. And how well you understand your customers comes down to the dialogue you have with them, and the insights you gather from that dialogue.
5. Brand accessibility via experimental ordering technology
New product capabilities are changing the game for eCommerce. Take Alexa’s voice ordering or push-to-order button capabilities, or apps like Sibi and CamFind that enable consumers to search and order products by clicking on an image.
The purchase decision is no longer in-store versus online. From the research phase, to the check out phase, brands need to be accessible and present on the latest shopping apps and technology gadgets. Which ones are worth building up that presence on, and which aren’t worth the time? We’ll see which technologies take the lead in 2018.
Published February 8, 2018