Technology has drastically changed how consumers now shop. The days of merely visiting a local retail business and purchasing whatever is needed are long gone. Instead, customers are constantly comparing prices and expecting selling experiences that guide them in finding the right products at the right time.
As such, that means retailers need to adjust their marketing strategies to meet their customers’ demands. They must also stay competitive with other retailers and of course, other online retailers. To help your retail business grow and thrive, here are seven retail trends in marketing that you need to pay attention to in 2019 and beyond
1. Omnichannel is the future of retail.
Omnichannel is a popular buzzword for both marketers and retailers. But, what exactly is omnichannel and why is it the future of retail?
Omnichannel can be defined as “a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick-and-mortar store.”
It’s important to note, however, that while an omnichannel experience will rely on multiple channels, not all multi-channel experiences are omnichannel. For example, just because you have a well-designed website, active social channels, and have embraced mobile marketing doesn’t mean it creates an omnichannel experience.
The correct omnichannel experience will be delivering a seamless and consistent message. In other words, an omnichannel aligns your goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device. It also makes it easier for your customers to make a purchase by presenting them with several different options, as well as gives you more opportunities to interact with customers.
The reason why you’ll want to be creating an omnichannel experience is that “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.”
Furthermore, it’s being predicted that within the next year, 20% of brick-and-mortar retailers will begin implementing omnichannel strategies.
Considering that a recent report from Sailthru, a marketing automation company, found that 46.3% of British and 37.9% of American shoppers reported that in-store shopping is more satisfying than e-commerce. Many brick and mortars have been driven to take action through email or push notifications, and you don’t want to be the realtor missing out on this golden opportunity.
2. AI will transform retail for the better.
Business Insider expects AI to “boost profitability in retail and wholesale by nearly 60% by 2035.” There’s a very good reason for this. By tapping into the power of machine learning and leveraging customer data, retailers can create more personalized shopping experiences. When you improve customer service and send-out automated messages based on audience segments, your sales will increase. AI can also create unforgettable and full brand experiences.
Artificial intelligence can create one-on-one shopping experiences based on your various customers’ location, price preferences, individual tastes, and purchase history. AI can even make smart suggestions on brands or products that are similar to those that your customers have supported in the past.
This AI used for one-on-one experiences will allow you to send automated messages at the right time on the right channel. More importantly, it will only display products and content that interest specific customers.
For example, if your customer has previously purchased a pair of sneakers and you only have one pair left in-stock that’s in their size — they will receive an email notifying them of this fact. If they purchase the sneakers online at that moment, they can pick them at your store later that day.
3. The convergence of the Internet of Things and digital marketing.
Speaking of big data, the Internet of Things could present retailers with new marketing opportunities to analyze, predict, and respond to your customer’s behavior. For instance, your smart fridge could determine that you’re getting low on milk or that it’s about to spoil.
You’ll then receive a message on the screen that displays the best prices of milk in your proximity. If a grocery store has partnered with your device, you could even order a new carton of milk directly from your fridge and pick it up on your way home from work.
Another possibility would be having your smart vehicle automatically order and pay for your cup of coffee during your morning commute. This smart vehicle determines which place you buy your coffee each day and if you receive the same order at the same location every morning.
Also, these smart devices will analyze consumer behavior, purchasing history, and location in order to send out push notifications for products that your customers will need or want. No more having your busy professional customer notice there is a problem or need for their products, and in desperation finally get this task done. With smart technology, you can finally take care of your customer’s in the way you have always wanted to.
4. Integrating voice and social commerce.
Thanks to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and all of the other voice-activated devices, there’s a new sales channel for retailers. For example, you can generate a shopping list just by speaking. Alexa or Google Home will then use a chatbot to provide personalized product suggestions based on the user’s buying habits. In fact, Comscore is predicting that 50% of search inquiries will be conducted by voice by 2020.
For retailers, that means integrating and adapting voice searches so that they can understand slang words, colloquial language, and local accents so that they can be discovered more easily.
Besides voice search, retailers must also integrate social shopping onto their social media accounts. This way customers don’t have to leave the retailers Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest page to make a purchase.
5. Mobile video is an essential part of your marketing plan.
There’s no denying that people are spending more and more time on their smartphones. But, what type of content are they consuming on their mobile devices? It’s safe to assume that they’re watching lots of videos.
In 2017 people spent an average of 29 minutes per day viewing mobile videos. That increased by 25% in 2018 and is expected to grow by 29% in 2019. In fact, mobile video is expected to account for 72% of all online viewing.
If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to embrace a mobile-first marketing strategy for your retail business. This could be by working with influencers for a product placement or endorsement in one of their videos or creating your own videos, like instructional videos. You can also start live-streaming events on your social platforms. It’s actually been found that viewers are 3X more likely to watch live streamed content than a prerecorded video.
6. Leveraging augmented reality to engage customers.
Augmented reality can create an interactive experience of a real-world environment. That can be beneficial to retailers who want to elevate the shopping experience.
For example, retailers like IKEA and Wayfair use augmented reality to help their customers find the right furniture for their homes. Using an augmented reality app to display a 3D rendering of the furniture in the customer’s own home will pretty much guarantee a sale. This will help customers make sure that the furniture can actually fit into their homes, as well as match their interior design.
7. Transforming point-of-sale to digital experiences.
As previously mentioned, customers find in-store shopping more satisfying than shopping online. As such, retailers need to look for ways to tap into this potential by creating memorable experiences that offer customers more than just browsing and shopping.
This experience could be anything from providing enriching opportunities, like scheduling appointments with sales associates. The sales associate can show the customer in-person how to use a product or enjoying a tasty snack like those delicious Swedish meatballs at IKEA.
Retailers can also use chatbots to deliver personalized recommendations and beacons to send out coupons when the customer is in proximity to the store. Retailers can share product information so that they don’t have to wait for an associate. The use of beacons would be using them to allow customers to pay for their purchases anywhere in the store to avoid long checkout lines.
Technology is rapidly evolving, which means the retail industry must keep-up, as well. It may seem overwhelming to apply a new thought to the old-time retail business at first. But, remember that people want to buy in your brick and mortar store. Give your customers a reason to be there and stay there until they’ve purchased.
Staying on top of marketing trends is going to be the best place to start and will keep your business ahead of the curve.
Date: January 3, 2019