Consumer spending behavior can change drastically by generation. With that said, innovation in technology plays a major role in discovering and utilizing data to help retailers weather these changes in route towards bigger sales.
The digital age of retail has begun to compete with brick-and-mortar traffic but the future of retail shows that omnicommerce is about creating a seamless experience both online and in-store. Here are three trends to pay attention to as retailers battle competition in the demanding retail landscape of today.
Personalizing the Buyer’s Journey
At the end of the day everyone wants to feel special. As retail, especially e-commerce, continues to evolve, the relationship between customers and your brand in today’s age is determined by how customized their shopping experience is.
Today’s consumers are inherently more digitally savvy, notably Generation Z who has spent their earliest days on the internet dodging ad blockers and finessing age-gated websites. Brands try to sell to them every chance they can get, regardless of the platform. With that said, organic content that speaks specifically to them is a focus that retailers and consumer packaged brands have found powerful. Unfortunately, 80% of marketers aren’t personalizing their marketing efforts, according to a study by VentureBeat.
The excitement of a new app or a new wearable doesn’t resonate with Gen Z the same way it may thrill a millennial shopper. The Generation Z audience responds to experiences that are personalized to their liking, hence the value in consumer data these days. Gen Z is inclined to participate in the brand experience, and it’s the brand’s job to provide one worth engaging with.
It’s well-known that eCommerce retailers were early on personalizing the buyer’s journey. Most of the time this interaction was shown through personalized content and product recommendations targeting the individual needs and intent of each shopper. Gen Z and other digital natives expect these personalized interactions. They choose and are loyal to the brands that offer personalization over those that don’t. At its core, personalization is tailored, timely customer experiences that win the customer in the end.
Leveraging In-store Experiences
According to a PwC survey, retail store visits fell from 35 billion in 2009 to 17 billion in 2013. In an effort to maximize your sales and maintain the loyalty of several generations of shoppers, it’s important to leverage an in-store digital shopping experience.
It’s estimated digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in a brick-and-mortar store. In an effort to create a loyal customer base, it’s important to engage shoppers through all channels with a seamless experience.
Shopping online allows for consumer insight and product customization. Yet, more in-store experiences need to leverage technology to allow buyers to make the same informed decision. Let’s explore how forward-thinking retailers leverage touchpoints on the selling floor.
Amplifying the physical interactions that customers have while shopping in-store is a key driver behind garnering interested buyers. Before, making this experience wasn’t as sought after on-site but retailers are aware that the in-store customer journey must be as informative as their online journey. Igniting in-store engagement can be done through a variety of ways:
- Allow customers to pick up online orders from your physical location.
- For bigger retailers, create a mobile app where shoppers scan product bar codes to read online reviews for validation.
- Offer kiosks or stationed tablets where customers can access your online catalog.
- Accept mobile payments through your POS system
The in-store incentives that add to the buyer’s journey vary, but many forward-thinking retailers are using augmented reality to increase engagement and drive sales in-store as well as online.
As innovation advances, retailers look to technology to set the foundation of their omnichannel approach. Augmented reality has proven to be the prominent tool for merchants looking to engage new shoppers through both channels.
Consumer confidence is a big factor behind both abandoned carts and returned products but augmented reality is helping to inform the buyer’s decision in ways other tools can’t. Through packaging, brands are enabling AR images on the outside of their products. In this sense, shoppers can scan the product packaging and easily see what’s offered inside without them having to speculate.
Kiosks are another installment that lead innovation for brick-and-mortar retailers. Lego has implemented AR-powered kiosks where customers can use the kiosk to scan the box of the Lego kit they are considering purchasing, and show their children exactly what the finished product will look like, in 3D.
Yet, Augmented reality within online shopping actually brings the store to the e-commerce shoppers. Augment is an AR solution that powers retailers to show their inventory to customers through augmented reality, allowing them to try products at home before purchasing.
“61% of shoppers prefer to shop at stores that offer augmented reality, over ones that don’t.”
– Retail Perceptions
AR provides true value when it comes to making a purchase decision. AR helps facilitate the path to purchase by transforming the speculation around a potential purchase into a reality. Consumers can use AR for product and color configurations; shoppers can also trigger animations to see how complex products like appliances or electronics function. A customer who can accurately see how any product will actually feel in their environment, at-scale, will be able to purchase with more certainty and satisfaction.
Innovative trends are dominating the retail market and they’re vital for consumer success both online and in-store. Using these strategies to build your omnichannel approach will help create a seamless and engaging experience that is distinct from your competition.
About the writer: Lindsay Boyajian is the Chief Marketing Officer of Augment, the leading augmented reality platform for retailers & manufacturers. Lindsay is an B2B marketing professional passionate about industry-changing technologies.
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