The top trends for brick-and-mortar retailers in 2013 are what will elevate the leaders above the pack over the next three years. These are mission critical and require a thoughtful, strategic approach. Let’s start with the obvious:
- “The Shopping Experience” is vital to win over the foot traffic and brand loyalty for the physical stores. The four walls are becoming one of the most valuable “marketing assets” out there today. Customers that are in the stores want to “feel” an experience and they want to be entertained. They want to explore, learn and have fun. Above all else, they want that instant gratification from products that are in stock and easy to find (after all, this is the one benefit that brick-and-mortars have left over other channels). The 3 P’s of shopping apply here which are….Personalized service, productive visits, and POSITIVELY convenient. The store format is becoming more flexible so measuring in-store performance is key (see trend 2).
- Analytics is back again this year…it has to be as retailers are figuring out the omnichannel experience. The goal is to have in-store shopping metrics that mirror on-line capabilities, the “who-what-when-where-how of customers.” Companies like RetailNext are driving much of this in-store analysis. The Big Data applied in the physical store format is key for this year. “It is not enough to have the data, retailers must 'use' the data in way to grow share holder value. Profit is priceless”. Applied big data in the physical store results in targeted personalized marketing and predictive in-store shopping behavior. And course, delivery of our number one trend, “The Shopping Experience.”
- Pricing Transparency has become ever pressing with the growth of the brick-and-mortar’s favorite new verb showrooming. The difference this year is that the retailers are figuring out the showrooming habit can actually help build sales. The good news is that two thirds of shoppers today use the internet as the front door for the physical stores. Instead of running from these well educated shoppers, invite them in, have products available, and be knowledgable about pricing. For some stores, this means “showing” price comparisons. The customers already have compared prices before they came into the store so make it easier for them to see the great value you're giving them. For other, high service stores, make sure the pricing is competitive. With technology today, there is no reason a customer should walk into a store and tell the sales associate the item is cheaper down the mall. Be proactive and get ahead of the game. And, yes, it is a game, and the customer loves this game.
- Converting social and mobile commerce into sales is key. The last few years retailers have spent time getting up and running on these applications. Now it is time to figure out how to get them to pay off. For the physical stores, how can smartphone apps and social media drive more foot traffic into the store? Here is new fun trend that combines social and shopping – ”haul videos.” The ultimate social gone viral. “Haulers” go into brick-and-mortar stores, buy products, take them home, and then make a “haul video” which details out the hauler's likes and dislikes of the “booty.” Brick-and-mortars need to figure out how to drive in-store sales by this method. The Hauler of today is likened to the fashion blogger three years ago. Will retailers hire haulers to support their brands? It will be interesting to see.
- Meet the New “CEO.” Actually, this has been coming about for awhile now, but it is more prevalent than ever. The new person calling the shots across all channels is the customer. Customers are the new CEO, only without the stock options. Customers will dictate what they want, the prices they will pay and the channels they will shop. The customer expects a personalized marketing plan, a connection with the brand, product that has value, and a “enhanced shopping experience” (yes, it always goes back to the first trend). One could argue that the customer has been calling the shots for years now. However, I say to all of you that the one difference is that “our” new CEO is a Millennial and retailers need to hang on for a wild ride. It is real simple. “Don’t be fooled. You work for her.”
There you have it in a nutshell for 2013. It is shaping up to be a huge year for many of these trends, all interwoven with omnichannel. The only reason omnichannel is not on the brick-and-mortar trend list is that it has taken on a life of its own – and deservedly so.
Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on Holiday Insights: What do we need to be prepared for in 2013?