How to Understand the 2020 Wireless Retail Consumer

Retailers are challenged to meet growing customer expectations; it's a new decade and consumers want unrestricted, flexible purchasing channels. We're also experiencing changing consumer demographics and retailers are borderline drowning in data.

What's a retailer to do?

It’s time to start thinking critically about your customers in an organized and strategic manner.

Before we dive into how to overcome some of these challenges and expectations, it feels important to level set on a Customer vs. Consumer. A customer is someone who buys your products. A consumer is anyone who uses your products and services. Both are important to you and your business as we walk through the information below.

Identify your customer segments and personas

First, it’s important to start thinking about who your customer segments and personas are. Think about your target markets vs. personas: Just because two people live in the same city doesn’t mean they are interested in or want the same things. Sometimes, deciding who your customers aren’t can be as is as important as deciding who your customers are.

Potential wireless customer personas could be:

  • The Mother: Often purchasing on behalf of her family of consumers and therefore always needs multiple devices and lines.

  • The Millennial: Cares about personalized experiences and business ethics.

  • The Music Lover: Not just there for a device, they need the ultimate in sound packages.

  • The iPhone Aficionado: Always knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the latest and greatest devices.

Some more common retail personas are:

  1. The well-informed shopper

  2. The showroom-er

  3. The look-y loo

  4. The customer on a mission

  5. The confused or indecisive

  6. The bargain-hunter

  7. The chatty customer

  8. The regular-repeat customer

Whatever your segments and personas are, find out how their interests and behaviors impact their consumption habits. Once you better understand your customer based on your data and interpretation of it, you can better personalize how you deal with those different types of customers and provide them your products and services. If you don’t understand your customer, it will be much harder and more expensive to sell to them.

Evaluate your customer’s buying behavior

Next, you want to think about how your customer’s look for products and make their buying decisions. To understand, it’s important to think about your different customer personas as well as:  

  • Their products purchased. Is it devices, accessories, or both? Do they always buy an iPhone or always buy a Samsung device? What type of accessories do they purchase with those items?

  • The timing and frequency of their purchases. Do they typically upgrade every one or two years? Do they do so because they've reached the end of their contract? Do they wait until new devices are released? Or wait until you have some type of discount or promotion?

  • Their response to sales promotions. If they are responding to your sales promotions, is it related to displays, product demos, special pricing, etc.?

  • Their path to purchase. Do they start online before visiting you in-store? After an in-store visit, do they buy there or ultimately go back online to have the product shipped directly to them?

It may also be beneficial to remember the typical decision-making process. While aspects of the below have evolved in retail, the core principles still stand true:

  • Identifying needs

  • Gathering information about the products

  • Evaluating alternative products

  • Purchasing the product

Understand general trends of what customers of 2020 want

While you certainly want to understand your own segments, personas, and buying behaviors first, there are some general trends for 2020 customers you may want to take into consideration as well. A lot of these trends will likely fit into your various personas.

  • Simplicity and honesty. Today’s customers want clear, brief, and credible information from companies. They are looking for easy to understand details, options, and genuine reviews. They are not looking for someone who deletes negative comments on social. Be humble, authentic, and address your customers directly, wherever they choose to engage with you.

  • Showcasing values. Retailers are often used to showcasing value in a traditional way…but customers of 2020 expect you not just to showcase the value you are bringing with your products and services; they are expecting you to showcase your actual values! Examples could be environment sustainability. Something as simple as going paperless could have a huge impact on your customers. There are also health concerns around 5G. Educating customers on the technology can help show you understand that value and concern they have and provide them with the information to make their decisions.

  • Convenience. Similar to the latter half of the last decade, customers still want what they want when and wherever they want it. They expect flexibility in how they purchase products and services from you, but they also expect complete efficiency when they do. For example, easy and efficient payments relieve a huge pain point for customers. Contactless payments on smaller transactions are a must have.

  • Social revolution and consumers. We’re in the midst of an interesting time where social media plays a critical role in the buyer journey. As Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member of Adidas said, “This new level of connectivity and seamless integration of digital and analogue [will provide] the opportunity to be closer to the consumer than ever.” Social media will no longer be just about sharing our personal lives, it’s become a place for communication, interaction, and socialization around products and purchases. According to Yahoo Deep Focus, Sharablee and Ipsos, 2016 “One third of U.S social media users ages 16-34, or 25.5 million people, are social influencers. 1.61 million have already partnered with a brand online.”

  • Great Service and personalization. Most of us really appreciate great service. But it seems as though as retail swung from mom and pop shops where everyone knew your name, to mass retail and cost efficiencies above all else, great service suffered. Now great retail experiences often feel few and far between. Creating a great experience can be as simple as coaching sales associates to use active listening and to serve customers how they would want to be. However, great service has also evolved where customers once again expect a level of personalization they once got from mom and pop shops and then some.

What you can do for your 2020 customers

  • Help build confidence in their purchase. In an ever-scandalous word, it’s never been more important to build trust. Be transparent: Enable your customers to research products and pricing online, see recommendations and reviews, and allow them to be able to easily return products if they don’t like them.

  • Demonstrate your company values. This could be as simple as going paperless in-store or using paper bags instead of plastic, to something more complex such as community or charity involvement. Show your customers what you stand for and demonstrate through action that you aren’t just another large corporation that's only worried about the bottom line.

  • Provide convenience. Invest in scalable technology that improves the customer’s experience and solves current pain points in their journey. This can be as simple as enabling contactless payments at the point of purchase to enabling flexibility by supporting a variety of delivery options for products – buy online ship to home, buy online pickup in-store, ship from store, ship store to store, and return to store.

  • Establish a social presence. Build out your social community online to allow for information gathering, communication, and interaction with your company, your influencers, and your customers. Use it to propel your positive word of mouth and showcase the above-mentioned reviews, values, etc.

  • Take care of your people. Ensure they have the proper training to provide your customers with a great experience, but also ensure they have the right tools and technology in place. This will help them provide a great and more personalized experience for your customers and ideally overcomes any information silos you may be experiencing today.

Set yourself up for success this year

Put it all into practice with an intelligent retail system that can help you reach your goals. Take a look at our whitepaper on how retailers can lead with unified commerce by achieving a 360-degree view of the customer. 

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