Author: Cindy Hanauer
How is your business going to be defined in the New Year? I think it’s safe to say that retail has never undergone such a dramatic change as it has in the past few years. And throughout these past years, we’ve also unveiled more information about what’s truly important to the consumer: rich experiences, personal connections, seamless convenience, and instant gratification.
In 2024, the economic belt will continue to tighten in the general gifting category with non-traditional retailers presenting more gifting options than ever before. But here’s the catch…the customer has become more than just the “price and item shopper” of yesteryear, hasn’t she? As we enter the New Year, here are FIVE delineations that will define the “new customer” who will be spending money with us in 2024:
If we’re no longer relevant, the customer will tell us with little warning. Today’s channel changes come as simple as a few keystrokes. Indeed, none of us thought we’d see the day when big giants in retail would come tumbling down, and with it, the harsh reminder that the customer’s still in charge-now more than ever.
Tip: Generate a full post-mortem category review of 2023 and be as precise as a surgeon in deciding what organs need to be removed, and what nip-and-tucks need to occur. A good category review involves both retailer and supplier in setting the goals and strategies toward future growth. Do suppliers feel as accountable as the retailer in overall relevance? If not, it’s time to bring them into the loop and allow them to help fight the retail battle for total customer satisfaction. If you wait until you HAVE to change….you’ve waited too long.
- Conversational Commerce
One of the break-out technologies of this decade was voice-activated shopping using technology such as Alexa-powered devices. Amazon has done a great amount of work to increase Alexa’s value and create wider sectors around its ecosystem. This is more than a flesh wound to competitors, including the gifting segment.
Tip: What is the sensory experience and product availability in your stores that make it worth coming in for? Are there hidden treasures to find? Is there an assortment of must-have values that are hard to replicate online? What about service? Personalized in-person service is a polarizing difference between online purchasing and an interactive one. As floral shoppe labor continues to be reduced, then so is one of the greatest advantages in a brick-and-mortar store. Losing business to a worthy competitor is one thing….. handing it to them is another.
- Blurred Lines
Customers don’t think in terms of purchasing channels, and we shouldn’t either. Customers view their cell phones as an extension of themselves in the same way a hand is. Omni-channel is a modern term that means retailers can sell seamlessly to their customers, regardless of if the customer is in the store, online at the office or scrolling through their phones. Frictionless customer experience and retail personalization will become important words in 2024.
Tip: When your customers are in the store, is there signage reminding them that there is also an online option to purchase? And when the customer is shopping online, are there images of the value and rich experience that awaits them in-store? In a seamless shopping environment, cross-channel marketing is imperative and will continue to be so in 2024.
The “why” and “how” are rapidly becoming as important as the product itself. Consumers want to know what they’re purchasing, and they also want to know about the integrity of the company from which they’re purchasing. Both the good and bad of a shopping experience can be posted within seconds, reaching thousands of other potential customers. This has created an additional layer of complexity, but also an additional way to understand your customers’ experiences inside the store.
Tip: Create positive “tweetable moments” for customers inside the store, building displays and touting unique products to “share with your friends”. The more positive the store environment, the greater chance of positive PR on social media. Do you want to know what your customers are saying? It’s simple to find out! Just enter your company name and a few keywords in the search field of any social media platform and every comment and/or hashtag with those words will be revealed!
- Cognitive Commerce
The more digital intelligence you have, the greater your competitive advantage. From the year 2020, approximately 1.7MB of new information will have been created every second for every person on earth. How do you use data today? How will you use even more data in the future? The sea change is occurring right before us with the Internet of Things connecting the network around us including 3D product creation tools, network integration, virtual reality merchandising and 360-degree data exchanges from farm to consumer. As a result, we will create a more sustainable and cost-efficient process, offer a personalized shopping experience for the consumer, and gain better communication, using live-time collaboration within the entire enterprise.
The five important retail trends above are not concepts-they’re reality. We have a unique opportunity to move the business forward in a way that has never been done before. If we don’t do it now, someone else will.
Believe in yourself – plan for the future – and your business will be unstoppable in 2024.