One of America’s favorite pastimes is changing rapidly. What would you say this pastime is? Shopping? Are you curious about how businesses are responding to the future of retail design? Keep reading, and we will tell you.
Customers don’t care what you do or how you do it. They only care what they are left with after you have done it.
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When it com
lets. Still, there’s more on the horizon for shopping than just point-and-clicking.
No one thinks physical stores are going away permanently. But because of the frenetic pace of advances in technology and online shopping, the stores that remain will likely offer amenities and services that are more about experiences and less about selling a product. Think Apple Inc.’s stores.
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Among the things industry watchers are envisioning are holograms in dressing rooms that will allow shoppers to try on clothes without getting undressed. Their homes will be equipped with smart technology that will order light bulbs before they go dark.
The proliferation of mobile technology has also been an enormous driver in the retail world in recent years. Nearly 80 percent of all smartphone owners today use their phones at least once monthly to shop, while more than 1/5th of all consumers habitually utilize mobile devices to enhance their shopping experience. Our smartphones let us compare prices, read reviews, obtain digital customer service, and learn more about the products we see in stores.
Over the last five years, the retail industry has witnessed a radical shift in shopper behavior fueled by the seismic impacts of mobile and social. Over that time, the team at PSFK Labs has documented ideas and identified trends that reflect how retail brands are trying to engage the always-on consumer.
While every retailer begins to own and integrates new technologies that connect us to the customer of tomorrow, it’s increasingly necessary to reimagine higher level service offerings that differentiate competitors. Companies must look beyond traditional systems and devices and focus on the design of an intuitive and customized shopper experience. They must provide both utility and education to their customers with a narrative and program rich retail experiences that drive sales.
PSFK’s latest report on the Future of Retail 2016, with ten practical recommendations (with examples), will help us all to understand the opportunities for developing a shopper narrative and apply the lessons to their work, so we create a new era of engaging, relevant and vibrant retail.
Winning the hearts and minds of today’s shoppers can’t be accomplished with one- off tactics, marketing campaigns or points- based rewards. Instead, brand and retailers must develop a broader process that considers the core needs of shoppers, deliver utility, value and meaningful interactions at every point along their journey.
The report visualizes four key stages in the shopper experience lifecycle, showing how the ten pillars identified in our study inform and build off one another to create a comprehensive strategy for driving increased engagement, repeat sales, word of mouth and lifetime loyalty.
There’s some good practical thinking in this report with some examples that will stimulate your thinking.
Retail design principles … Enhancing Purchase Path
Providing shoppers with the tools and advice to help them discover new products and choose the option best suited to their lifestyles and need (product immersion + guided recommendations). Examples: @Sephora online matching service for ideal perfume, @ThePirch traversing
Saving customers time and effort (#ConvenienceTech) along the purchase path through streamlined technology and services (1-click transactions, shop ahead, anywhere purchase platforms). Examples: @Starbucks order ahead on smartphone, @Macys scan garments on the rack to get them delivered them to the fitting room, @MikMakTV shoppable videos
Building Better Relationships
Opening the door for consumers to take advantage of services and experiences that were previously too exclusive or expensive (customer concierges, aspirational experiences). Examples: @StichFix affordable personal shopper, @RebeccaMinkoff VR fashion show
RECOGNIZE & PERSONALIZE
Putting systems in place for remembering and acting on the purchase history and preferences of customers, and tailoring those experiences over time (360-degree service, predictive assistance). Examples: @Walgreens pharmacy app anticipates needs (e.g. Rx refills), @modaoperandi in-store CRM for high-touch store service
Being upfront with consumers about the policies and processes that underlie the products and services that they’re buying into (reciprocal relationships, stored products). Examples: @Waitrose loyalty scheme allows members to pick their deals. @Amazon Elements product line allows customers to track items from creation to expiration
Creating a Valuable Community
Creating additional value for customers by collaborating with like-minded companies to deliver expanded offerings (cross-channel rewards, additive experiences). Examples: @Gap + @VirginHotels – order from Gap, get delivered to hotel room in 3hrs, @Instacart + @AllRecipes 1-click ordering and delivery of ingredients
Building a responsive support network that provides expert service and educates consumers after a purchase is made (Cultivated expertise, always-on support). @Patagona – Apparel mending bus tours country, @goEnjoy hand delivers electronics for personalized set-up
Creating opportunities for consumers and fans to come together around the halo of a brand to build value on top of existing products and services (cultural hubs, collaborative marketplaces). Examples: @bjornborg underwear launches dating app based on fitness, @audi Unite co-leasing program lets drivers share benefits of ownership at reduced cost
Retail design … Elevating the Top Tier
Tapping consumers for their knowledge and feedback to create opportunities for them to advocate on your behalf (hopper-led exchange, crowd buy-in). Examples: @Sony First Flight crowdfunded platform allows brands to test future products, @Chevrolet allows prospective buyers to talk to existing owners
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Providing unexpected perks and promotions that re-energize existing relationships and build on the broader brand promise (insider exclusives). Examples: @kennethcole invites allow shoppers to text to open a store whenever they, @nike runs invite-only experiences for influencers
The bottom line
E-commerce has certainly revolutionized the way we shop, but brick-and-mortar stores are far from dead. Increasingly, online retailers have begun opening physical stores for the first time, which signals that there may be a return to real world shopping – only this time, reinvented for the digital age.
Need some help in finding ways to grow your customers? Such as creative ideas to help the differentiation with potential customers? Or perhaps finding ways to work with other businesses?
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So what’s the conclusion? The conclusion is there is no conclusion. There is only the next step. And that next step is completely up to you. But believe in the effectiveness of collaborative innovation. And put it to good use in adapting to changes in your business environment.
It’s up to you to keep improving your learning and experience with innovation and creativity efforts. Lessons are all around you. In this case, your competitor may be providing the ideas and or inspiration. But the key is in knowing that it is within you already.
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And that fight gets better every day you learn and apply new lessons.
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Try. Learn. Improve. Repeat.
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Mike Schoultz is the founder of Digital Spark Marketing, a digital marketing and customer service agency. With 40 years of business experience, he blogs on topics that relate to improving the performance of your business. Find them on G+, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Digital Spark Marketing will stretch your thinking and your ability to adapt to change. We also provide some fun and inspiration along the way. Call us for a free quote today. You will be amazed how reasonable we will be.
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