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Analysis

5 Ways the Shopping Experience Has Changed (And 14 Tips to Keep Up)

Shopping isn’t what it used to be. Here’s what consumers expect and what it’ll take to satisfy their expectations

Adebisi Adewusi
June 13 2019

Cultural changes, global trends, and technology have changed how consumers shop. Amazon has been conditioning its customers to expect increasingly rapid deliveries, while Netflix radically redefined the notion of ‘personalization’. As consumers’ behaviors shift, companies have no choice but to keep up with their evolving desires. 54% of consumers expect brands to implement change within six months and 29% expect it to happen within one month. This article unpacks consumers’ rising shopping expectations and drops some tips on how you can keep up.

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1. Secondhand Shopping

Driven by the desire for newness, sustainability, and affordability, consumers are adopting new ownership models to access product. 64% of women bought secondhand products in 2018 and more than 1 in 3 Gen Z consumers will buy pre-owned clothing in 2019.

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To get in on the $24 billion secondhand market, employ the following pre-owned methods:                                                           

1. Refurbish: Strengthen your sustainability credentials and open new markets by giving consumers the option of purchasing refurbished products. Before launching a refurbishment program, ensure the durability/reparability of your products, create and maintain an efficient cleaning and repair process, and price items at a fair discounted rate.

2. Resale: A growing segment of consumers no longer buys with the intent to keep. 40% of customers now consider the resale value of an item before buying it. Tap into this shift in consumer behavior by implementing a resale component such as offering discounts in exchange for used items. Highlight your product’s resale value and partner with resale sites that carry logistics, renewal, and repair expertise.

3. Rent: In today’s sharing economy, many consumers are choosing to rent clothing. Experiment with rental services by partnering with rental sites, and offer consumers perks for purchasing your products on these sites.

As consumer attitudes toward ownership and sustainability change, it’s clear that the wardrobe of the future has few permanent items in its closet.

2. No Plastic

The harmful effects of plastic waste are impacting the way many people shop. 44% of consumers are concerned about single-use plastics and 34% are happy to switch to more sustainable alternatives. In response to the movement to reduce plastics globally, brands are rethinking how they use the material. Consider these strategies to become waste-free:

4. Plastic-Free Zones: Plastic-free stores or aisles where consumers can shop without the need for plastic packaging is a good way to reduce your plastic footprint. Lush Cosmetics recently launched a plastic packaging-free shop in the UK.

Source

With their recently launched #LushLabs app, customers can scan products from the shelves—using their ‘Lush Lens’ feature—and examine the ingredients without needing the plastic ‘ingredients label.’ Follow Lush’s lead and use sustainably sourced alternatives with minimal environmental impact by enabling consumers to check product information via smartphone scanning.

5. Phase Out Single-Use Plastic: Eliminate single-use plastic like plastic bags by offering reusable bags, expanding loose produce ranges, and introducing refillable format options. Encourage sustainable choices among consumers by allowing them to bring in reusable containers. Offer plastic-free options like bagless deliveries for online orders.

6. Recycle: Use recyclable packaging and remove non-recyclable plastics such as PVC and black plastics from your product range. Iceland recently announced plans to remove all plastic packaging from its private label product range by 2023. Encourage consumers to recycle plastic items by placing recycling instructions on products, providing recycling bins, and offering consumers rewards for recycling.

It’s not enough to verbally commit to reducing plastic pollution. Determine a measurable and time-bound goal for reducing plastic packaging and publish annual reports on your plastic footprint to prove you are enacting meaningful solutions.

3. Contextual Commerce

Contextual commerce is the idea that customers can buy anything, anywhere, anywhere, by clicking one button. If you’ve noticed the buy buttons on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram, this is contextual commerce at work. 58% of consumers have engaged in contextual commerce, and most would be happy to experience it again. Below are two ways brands use contextual commerce to reach consumers:

7. Social Media: Social media platforms have increasingly grown to resemble commerce tools as their eCommerce features meet consumers’ need for anytime, anywhere shopping. 81% of consumers engage in contextual commerce through social media. Use social to create awareness about your brand by engaging consumers with interactive elements such as augmented reality ads. Leverage commerce features like shoppable posts to move consumers from discovery to purchase.

Michael Kors Augmented Reality Ad

8. Smart Speakers:  Voice-activated speakers fit seamlessly into consumers’ daily routines and simplify their shopping experience. 28% of consumers who own voice-activated speakers used them to make a purchase in the past seven days. But before jumping on the voice wagon, determine that a meaningful portion of your customer base actually wants voice technology, and make sure there’s a natural connection between your brand and voice-activated tech. For more on how to use voice technology in your business, check out this post.

Apart from the above channels, contextual commerce is also taking place over platforms such as Yelp and Spotify. Find out which platforms your customers use and partner with those that have a strong payment infrastructure. 

4. Alternative Payment Methods

Though credit and debit cards remain popular payment methods, many consumers are choosing to complete their purchases with alternative payment options. Alternative payment accounts for more than half of eCommerce transaction volume. Here are three alternative payment options gaining popularity with consumers:

9. Digital Wallets Digital wallets eliminate the need for re-entering card details and allow customers to pay without worrying about the security of their data. 2.1 billion consumers are expected to use a digital wallet to conduct transactions in 2019. If you choose to feature a branded digital wallet, ensure it enhances the shopping experience, use your loyalty program to acquire users, and integrate your digital wallet into your mobile app.

10. Buy Now Pay Later: Installment-based purchasing has become an attractive payment option for consumers. 31% say they wouldn’t have made a purchase without a Buy Now Pay Later option.

Source

When using this strategy, create a fast and easy application process and establish interest-free payments. Help consumers keep track of their repayments via your mobile app or online account, and clearly state the terms and conditions.

11. Biometric Payment: Biometric technology presents retailers with the opportunity to improve the payment experience and eliminates the need for PINs and passwords. 86% of consumers are interested in using biometrics to make payments.

Source

Biometric payments are already the norm in China. 60% of Singles’ Day customers biometrics to make payments either by scanning their fingerprint or taking a selfie. While consumers are open to biometric payment methods, safety is still a natural concern. So if you’re considering this option, create strategies to keep consumer information safe and link biometrics payment with additional authentication methods.

Today’s payment landscape is being pushed forward by consumers’ quest for convenience. Adopting the right mix of alternative payment options could place you ahead of the competition in the long term.

5. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is redefining the retail experience and changing the way consumers shop. 48% of consumers are likely to shop at a retailer that utilizes augmented reality. And 100 million consumers will shop using augmented reality online and in-store by 2020. If AR is on your to-do list, use these tips to guide your AR strategy.

12. Add Value: Just because technology exists doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. So explore AR only if it’s relevant to your offering and improves the end user experience. To do this, understand customer pain points and explore how you might use the technology to solve those problems.

13. Choose the Right Solution: Select an AR solution with analytical capabilities. This will help you track consumer metrics and gain insight into how consumers engage with your installation.

14. User Experience: Improve the user experience by going hands-free. With this format, consumers don’t need to hold their phones for extended periods at eye level.  Reduce the number of steps required to complete a task and save consumers the hassle of downloading an extra app by making AR content viewable on mobile browsers.

Meet Consumers On Their Terms

To survive and thrive in today’s world, brands must constantly adjust their business methodology to embrace consumer shopping behavior. Other trends to keep an eye on include consumers’ move from materialism to simplicity, the quest for improved transparency, and the use of marketplaces (such as Amazon) over retailer websites. Monitor emerging trends by conducting competitor analysis, using social listening to engage in online conversations. Lastly, always monitor public interest surrounding new technology and how it engages with social, economic, and cultural issues.

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