5 Retail Trends Shaping the Future of the Customer Experience
The IBM Institute for Business Value recently released a report on “The new age of ecosystems - Redefining partnering in an ecosystem environment” and one thing is clear: customers’ expectations are increasing. Seventy-six percent of consumers now expect organizations to understand and anticipate their individual needs.
In the past few years, my expectations of the shopping experience have grown tremendously. Long gone are the days of leafing through product catalogs (remember those?) and earmarking what I want, then making the trip to my local mall to scour clothing racks and product displays. Now, with Amazon Prime and rewards from my favorite e-retailers, I can get what I want almost immediately.
And it’s not just our relationship with the ever-present shopping experience that’s rapidly evolved; consumer expectations of brands themselves have evolved as well.
TrendWatching just released their “Future of Retail” report that predicts the biggest retail trends of 2019. Yes, the new year will be here before you can say Pumpkin Spice Latte, and the marketing calendar waits for no brand. Make sure your customer experiences are immersive and desirable in 2019 by hitting on these five key trends:
- Magical Point of Sale (M-POS): I dream of the day that I can summon a magic genie to shop for me. Okay, that might not actually happen, but the genies we know as our smartphones and voice assistants can help. The Nike SNRKS app is a master at this, using AR to offer exclusive views of new shoes and geolocation to “drop” them. Easiest way to secure those back-to-school kicks.
- Deep Retail: Personalized retail experiences tell customers that their favorite brands know them better than they know themselves. Custom offers, predictive recommendations and intuitive carts can all go a long way in deepening the relationship. But please, remember there’s a fine line between helpful and creepy.
- Culture Clubs: Customers are now more in tune with what happens behind the logo. They crave transparency and are intrigued by the company’s culture. I’ve personally purchased a lesser-known brand over the market leader because I learned about their inspiring backstory and how they support their employees.
- A-Commerce: We are living in a fully connected world, and that’s only increased consumers’ expectations for instant gratification. As such, consumers are willing to outsource some of their decision-making to brands to save time and energy, a.k.a. “you do the thinking for me.” Brands are now exploring Automation Commerce strategies to capitalize on this shift in consumer behavior. Target is piloting Fetch, an AI service that uses Bluetooth-connected devices to track your usage of toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap and other must-have toiletries, and automatically order more when you run low (I’ll take the Charmin Ultra Soft, thanks!).
- Practical Post-Demographics: In 2019, diversity and inclusivity will take center stage. Consumers will push brands to reimagine their offerings to cater to the needs and wants of customers from all walks of life, demanding diversity not just in advertising but also in the products that make it to market. For example, designing customer experiences for Seniors is just as important as designing for Gen Z.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the retail space in 2019. In the meantime, I’m going to see if a magic genie can order me some more toilet paper.