Retail is far from a dying industry, with sales hitting a record $5.7 trillion in 2017, according to the U.S. Census. But to keep up with customer demands, these brands are tasked with staying ahead of the curve to provide consumers with what they really want. And while 54 percent of retailers say the customer experience is their most important focus, are they really hitting the mark when it comes to modern consumer expectations?
4 things consumers want
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to exceed consumer expectations, there are a few techniques that have proven successful for retail brands, according to Euclid’s “Evolution of Retail: Consumer Survey Report” in April:
- Pop-up shops
- Online ordering and store pickup
- Less is more with email marketing and ads
- Valuable shopping experiences
Your audience has a mix of ages and interests, so work to target certain groups and implement a variety of approaches you know will interest them. Even if the majority of your customers are older, don’t ignore the younger groups, especially millennials, the largest generation in U.S. history. There are 80 million in the United States alone, and they spend $600 billion annually — which is 28 percent of all daily per-person consumer spending. Retailers are putting their twists on these four approaches to exceed consumer expectations. Here’s a breakdown of how and why these are the future of the industry.
One modern take on the physical retail shopping experience is the pop-up shop. Being available for only a short amount of time helps tap into people’s fear of missing out (FOMO), adding to the shop’s appeal. Here are the types of consumers who say they’d be likely to check out a pop-up shop, according to Euclid’s report:
- Ones who shop online weekly (38 percent)
- Ones who subscribe to monthly subscription boxes (50 percent)
- Ones who prefer the traditional brick-and-mortar shopping experience (29 percent)
As for why they’d choose this type of shopping experience, 30 percent said it was for the competitive prices, and 28 percent said it was for the convenience and location. These shops can highlight some of the retailer’s new, limited-time items or give shoppers a chance to view merchandise in person that might normally be online-only.
Online retail giant Amazon created pop-up experiences in select Whole Foods — which they purchased in 2017 — last year during the holidays. These shops allowed customers to test out their devices and learn about their services.
Another online retailer bringing their items to physical locations, Birchbox created a national tour across the United States where it brought some of its top products to brick-and-mortar retail stores. They also set up a pop-up shop in London that featured stations for customers to build their own Birchbox or purchase the full-size versions of some of their most popular items. They held giveaways and special events at the shop to complete the must-attend experience.
Online to store
Being able to make a purchase online and then picking it up in the store saves customers time, ensures the items are in stock and keeps them from having to wait for delivery — things that are especially important to younger shoppers. Euclid’s report shows 47 percent of millennials, 30 percent of generation X and 13 percent of baby boomers shop online and pickup in store.
This approach can also increase sales, with 60.2 percent of shoppers saying they’re very or moderately likely to buy something else when they go to a store to pick up an online order. Some brands, like Walmart, even give customers a discount for using this shopping method. Overall, most major retailers have adapted some form of this practice, with many taking it a step further and offering curbside pickup.
Looking beyond ads
Marketing strategies received mixed reviews in Euclid’s report, with 53 percent of baby boomers saying an ad that featured the exact item they wanted would be an incentive to visit the store. Only 40 percent of generation X agreed, and less than a third of millennials said they’d visit.
All of the respondents agreed receiving too many email marketing campaigns was a deterrent. The older age groups were more likely to unsubscribe after a large number of emails, whereas less than half of millennials took active steps to address the issue.
Instead of an influx of email marketing campaigns, modern consumer expectations lean more toward a mix of marketing and technology — especially when it comes to the in-store experience: 51 percent of millennials, 38 percent of generation X and 23 percent of baby boomers say an in-store visit would be more exciting if retailers used technology, according to Euclid’s report. Technology could include social media, smart assistants like Alexa or Google Home, interactive websites or email. That just proves consumers are more drawn to authentic experiences, rather than advertising.
Providing value across the board
As you work to incorporate a variety of these modern expectations, don’t lose sight of customers’ core values. Here are Euclid’s findings across all of the demographic responses: 61 percent value online shopping as affordable, 59 percent online shopping as informative, 55 percent online shopping as innovative, 60 percent physical shopping as more secure and 48 percent physical shopping as more customer-centric than digital. Consumers also say they would like retailers to provide customized, targeted shopping experiences for them.
Become the retailer of the future
Taking a proactive approach with your marketing and retention strategies will keep your brand relevant as modern consumer expectations continue to evolve. By incorporating different techniques to engage a variety of age demographics, you’ll show you know what your customers really want and keep them coming back.