the world of retail has been altered forever by coronavirus, with the resulting change in consumer behaviors driving in-store shopping into a downward spiral and fuelling unprecedented growth in eCommerce. It’s true that the rapid change of retail has been boosted by the virus, but in what way? Here’s what to expect for the future to come.
The following post does not directly talk about Amazon FBA
Return of physical stores end 2021
While the coronavirus has closed many retail stores and consumers moved to eCommerce, physical stores will be the focus again. Keep in mind that only 15% of retail sales were from eCommerce in 2020.
While our current situation has unquestionably stimulated the rise of eCommerce, there will always be a place for bricks-and-mortar retailing. However, the average brick-and-mortar retailer won‘t be surviving the pandemic if they don’t adapt to become a better store.
Brick-and-mortar stores will need to tap into emotion, human connection, and most importantly, develop a community. It’s essential that they move towards fast pace experiences. Consumers want frictionless retail.
- Touchless solution: No more waiting in line, ditch the registers. Bigger players are already on the move with this, including Amazon with its Amazon Go convenience store.
- Inventory optimization: Continued integration between digital and physical retail has the potential to produce inventory disorder─retailers can maintain order, by developing inventory management technology that provides real-time intelligence.
- Transparency: Thanks to the internet. Consumers are getting smarter and understand more about pricing, discounts, and marketing. Now more than ever it’s critical to be open towards your consumer with clear product information. Take a look at one of my favorite companies at the moment. Italic─it’s an online retailer that offers luxury goods straight from the same manufacturers as your favorite brands. No logos, no markups. It’s a totally new business model with more transparency.
Customer expectations rule
In the near future, more retailers will focus on local communities, developing personalization and hyper-localization to lure consumers with fitting offers. The trend towards hyper-personalization could see more retailers deliver a “white glove” service in a digital way to meet growing customer expectations. White glove simply means it’s delivered with special care and attention. It’s more personal.
In the world of e-commerce, shoppers want a more personalized experience. 90% of customers are more likely to shop with brands that remember and provide relevant offers and product recommendations. Machine learning helps with that. Data analysts use AI to compile data and create customer profiles. Analysts use these profiles and insights to deliver personalized suggestions and related content, based on an intelligent algorithm.
Customer experience becomes a necessity
Customer experience, also known as CX, is your customers’ perception of their experience with your brand. From navigating the website to receiving a package they bought from you. Everything you do impacts your customers’ judgment and their decision to keep coming back—so I don’t have to tell you that a great customer experience wins customers and has a direct impact on your success.
There is no best option or formula that I can give you to guarantee a good customer experience. Your brand is different, but there are a few key components that come together with every brand to deliver a stunning customer experience.
- Make listening to customers a top priority across the business
- Use customer feedback to develop an in-depth understanding of your customers
- Implement a system to help you collect feedback, analyze it, and act on it regularly
- Reduce friction and solve your customers’ specific problems and unique challenges
It’s not as complicated as you think.
We can even look at customer experience from the other way around. By describing what customers don’t want. You don’t want to have your customer experience long wait times, unresolved questions, rude employees, or an experience that isn’t personalized.
Lockdowns, no more traveling, and retail closings forced the consumer online, and the world’s largest retailers soon followed. But not all eCommerce strangers had the infrastructure in place to deliver a world-class customer experience.
One way DTC brands are standing out in a crowded eCommerce place is through customer experience. Orders must have fast, free, and sustainable shipping. And the unboxing video has caused DTC companies to invest in custom branded packaging.
To better compete with marketplaces and retail giants, brands are also investing in richer, more personalized experiences. Humanizing their brand also supports customer retention, now a top priority as acquisition costs rise, along with uncertainty in digital advertising.