New and emerging technologies are changing the way customers interact with their favourite brands and stores. With new trends such as omnichannel strategies, artificial intelligence, automation and a desire for experiences, companies have the opportunity to leverage these trends and set themselves apart from competitors. We have outlined a few of these new trends which are transforming the retail industry and customer’s buying journey.

Optimising the Customer Journey with Omnichannel Improvements

You may have heard of multi-channels, which essentially allows customers to interact with your business on various platforms such a social media, a website, directories or in-store. Where omnichannel marketing differs is that it uses a multi-channel approach to provide customers with a seamless and integrated experience across all of these channels, regardless of device or platform they are using. Customers can engage with a company on Facebook, Instagram, calling them, visiting their website via an app on their phone, tablet or visiting their physical store. Their experiences across these different channels need to be consistent.

According to Google, customers have high expectations when it comes to online shopping,

“they expect frictionless, intuitive, and even one-click experiences”

Customers may start in one channel, and move to another, so making this journey fully integrated will help make the buying process easier for customers. Essentially, this involves interconnecting these channels to ensure that the customer has a positive, seamless and effortless experience.

According to Invespro, “Companies with omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to customer retention rate of 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.” Getting omnichannel marketing right is an emerging trend that will be crucial for retail businesses. So how exactly can businesses implement an omnichannel marketing strategy? Some ways include:

  • Marketing Automation
    Using marketing automation to segment your audience and build rich customer profiles. This can allow you to target them with customised landing pages based on their behaviour and interests, to create a more seamless buying experience. Automation will also help to save time and ensure that everything runs smoothly.
  • Buy Online and Pick Up In-Store Capabilities
    According to Google, “60% of users in the UK have used click-and-collect services for their digital purchases”. Having the option available for customers to purchase a product online and pick it up in store could be a deciding factor between you and a competitor.
  • Take a data-driven approach
    It is important to take a data-driven approach with omnichannel marketing. This can help you to determine which channels are most valuable and where you should focus your efforts
  • Focus on Your Customers and User Experiences
    At the end of the day, your customer should be the main focus. Look at the experience from their perspective and try to understand problems or difficulties with their buying journey. Personalise the strategy based on their needs and prioritise the customer experience at all times.

Experiential Shopping both In-Store and On-Line

Samsung pop-up store

(source: TechCrunch)

Now more than ever, customers expect their retailer to not only sell them goods but to also provide them with an engaging experience. One great example of this is the $43 million Samsung pop-up store, where no products were actually for sale. This pop-up featured “interactive art, virtual reality, lounge areas, a recording studio and a three-story 96-screen display wall”.

The focus was not on selling more phones, but instead on providing an engaging experience that customers are looking for. Now to celebrate 10 years, Samsung is setting up what they call “experiential retail locations” that allow customers to learn about new products, and a space to “playground for Samsung fans… to experience and see Samsung technology brought to life”. This shows that there is clearly value in providing a positive experience for customers, more than just selling them products.

But how does experiential shopping extent to the digital sphere?

Monitoring Trends and Feedback to Improve Customer Experience
Retail brands can leverage this growing trend by using their digital media to monitor trending interests of their customers on social media. Using this data, you can fine-tune the retail experience based on customers opinions and feedback.

Creating Tailored Experiences
In the digital age, customers expect companies to customise their offering to suit their needs and interests. One great example of this is the trend for subscription e-commerce. According to McKinsey, the subscription e-commerce market has grown by more than 100% in the past five years. Curation or personalised services are the most popular, with 55 percent of total subscriptions.. With these subscription boxes, customers receive a mix of new products, from categories such as food, apparel, and beauty products, and these products are curated based on the interests that customers give in the initial purchase. This suggests that there is a strong desire for personalised services and the experience of surprise and delight that they get from their subscription box.

Artificial Intelligence: Customers Interacting with Chatbots

Messenger bots have evolved to more than a simple set question and answer response. Using artificial intelligence, messenger bots have the ability to converse with users in a completely natural way. Often it is even hard to distinguish whether you are talking to a real person or a chatbot!

They can understand what is being asked and respond immediately, which provides huge value for retail companies. As we know how crucial a seamless customer experience is, this makes it simple and easy for customers to quickly get answers to any questions they have.

You can set up messenger bots on Facebook, to provide welcome messages and allow customers to place their order directly. Chatbots can also be implemented on your website. This allows customers to interact with your business at any time.

Geotargeting and Location-Based Marketing for Retail Stores

Geotargeting delivers content to a user based on their location. A simple example of this is using location targeting when setting up ads on platforms Facebook or Google. One great way to do location-based advertising could involve promoting ads about a new store location in a specified radius. Using location-based marketing you can also send notifications with coupons, promotions or other offers.
A great example of location-based marketing was Burger King’s “Whopper Detour” which allowed anyone within 600 metres of a McDonalds restaurant to purchase a Whopper for only 1 cent on their new app.

What made this campaign unique, is that unlike most geotargeting campaigns which target customers near their store, Burger King was sending customers to their competitors. While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend sending your customers to a competitor, the reason this campaign worked well is that it generated a lot of social media buzz and traction. This shows how location-based marketing can be used innovatively to create publicity for a company.

We have captured a few of the emerging digital trends that are transforming the retail industry. Understanding how customer’s buying and browsing habits are changing can help your business prepare for changes and help you better target your customers.