As another year comes to a close, we all look toward a new year full of new trends and new opportunities (and maybe a cute, new outfit?). A recent article from Retail Customer Experience provides some interesting insight. What will you do differently in 2016? How has 2015 influenced your retail strategy decisions? The retail game continues to change quickly but at the core of it, consumers still want a convenient, consistent shopping experience.
One of the biggest retail areas of opportunity still remains e-commerce. Retailing Today discusses four retail tech predictions for 2016 based on interviews with major e-commerce brands. I do agree with the majority of the predictions (I think we’re already there in a lot of aspects) but it really got me thinking about potential contradictions between brands and retailers collaborating all the while more and more brands are launching their own marketplaces. It can be a slippery slope for two stakeholders to play nicely when they’re potentially in competition with each other. How do we keep the playground bully free? How do you ensure you’re capitalizing on brand relationships rather than competing with them?
Content is king no matter who or where you are. Whether it’s in-store digital interactions and signage or online within brand and retailer sites, consumers always want more information! As a consumer, I expect multiple images, specs, color options, reviews, etc. on nearly every item I purchase (or research) online.
Brands, distributors, and retailers alike will all benefit from stronger content per product AND consistent marketing in-store and online.
Content also needs to extend BEYOND just your website! If consumers see your product on Instagram, how do they follow a path to purchase? Company sites such as www.LiketoKnow.it are creating unique opportunities for retailers. If I like your picture, can I get an email of where to buy the product, complete with links to e-commerce sites? Yes, please. Pinterest Buy it creates a similar opportunity. Rather than allowing your content to just be shared over and over with no credit or ROI – continue to capitalize by maintaining that path to purchase.
Lastly, direct fulfillment has definitely become an expectation in the retail industry. If I’m in-store and you don’t have the correct size, color or you're out of stock for the item I came for, I expect your team to offer to ship to a convenient location at no charge. Otherwise, nothing is stopping me from channeling the “Amazon drones.” If I’m online my expectation is a quick, easy way to purchase my product with all the perks of in-store including free shipping, coupons, loyalty programs and return policies. With in-store and online direct fulfillment you also create a really fun inventory game! Analyze data and use those calculations to manipulate your online and in-store product offerings including strategic, physical displays.
Whatever your retail 2016 retail strategy may be, I wish you a Happy New Year! I’m more excited than ever for what’s next.