2013 will be the year of interactivity, the year that redefines customer relationship. Furthermore, sales in the mobile application industry will increase considerably, thus making the line between online and offline vanish. We briefly describe some of the most important trends that will influence the future of the retail industry and we will be following up on them in the next articles.
Communication with customers gets customized
Retailers will own such intelligent client databases in the future that they will be able to send customized offers and increase the interactivity of their relationships with their customers. That is particularly useful because, even if retailers do not communicate with their clients directly, clients still discuss upon the services offered by those retailers.
Apps such as OpenLabel augment the information stored in barcodes with various data posted by consumers (testimonials for example): comments about the company’s environmental policy, the way it handles social issues (CSR), the origin of raw materials, labor ethics or equity, product quality and other remarks that consumers find relevant.
One of the most efficient methods that retailers use in order to adapt to this trend of virally disseminating information is to actually encourage the phenomenon, by creating online platforms on their companies’ websites, where clients can post their opinions or wishes; using the data gathered, retailers can adjust their offer, by adding extra information where it is needed and adapting the store supply to the demand, at the same time taking into consideration the criteria and values that consumers find important. Thus, consumers shall experience an authentic interactive relationship, as the effort taken in offering a feedback will actually have an effect upon the retailers’ offers. If you give them the chance, they will be happy to share their needs and wants, the criteria that make them choose one certain product and especially the values they employ in the choice process. The secret is to adapt your offer to their demands in order to turn the dialogue into profit.
Probably one of the most important savings a supermarket or a proximity store can offer to its customers is time economy. A recent study carried out by The Copenhagen Institute for Future Studies (CIFS), with the support of Ericsson, shows that the borderline between online and offline will vanish, making room for an inline lifestyle endorsed by the use of mobile communication. If our mothers’ generation split their time between family, career and cooking, nowadays housewives removed cooking from their priority list. The modern woman knows she can be a “model” mother while leading a whole company, without neglecting neither gym nor cosmetics sessions, nor their favorite books or childhood friends. That is why they will be always thankful to those service providers helping her to reduce or even fully cutting out the time spent in the house holding. Moreover, if, between two meetings, they could use an app on their own phone to order the courses, which would get home exactly at the right hour, they would become dependent on this service (in a good sense).
Richrelevance, a company providing e-commerce customized services, carried out a study that showed that the role of social media in the retail industry is more important than previously thought. Pinterest traffic doubled last year, while Facebook traffic went through a tiny decrease. One of the main roles of social media is that it generates awareness and allows for the share of information, even if it does not directly generate sales. Retailers will have to turn to such communication platforms with well-planned campaigns, in order to persuade their clients to sign in on Facebook from their showrooms or stores, to post about them, to get feed on new offers or discounts or to recommend those shops to their network friends.
It’s been long since the time spent in stores (especially those that sold clothes, luxury products or specialized merchandise) stopped being just a simple commercial activity undertaken to get what we needed. Nowadays, the experience itself is more important: the way our senses are stimulated or delighted, the state of mind induced by the mixture between light, color, fragrance and background music – they all matter. Future showrooms will be set up in such a manner that they will become true playgrounds, where people come to have fun, relax, enjoy their leisure time and decide which products they cannot leave behind on their way home.
Ikea is a good example – soon enough, all furniture and interior decoration showrooms will do the same and all hypermarkets will set up entertainment areas. Another good example are luxury brands, which turn their showrooms into true contemporary art galleries, using the expertise of the greatest artists of the moment.
And do not forget that the most memorable experience shall always be the one that involves interactivity: the near future customers will be attracted inside by interactive storefronts, will be provided with tablets where they can browse throughout all the information about products and will be delighted by facilities that will interact with them in the most diverse and high-tech manners. They will leave the store not only with the most suitable shopping, but also with an experience that made their day more interesting; moreover, they will be willing to share this experience using each and every medium they have on their disposal.
If you want your product range to be successful, it’s a good idea to take into account the cultural trends of the moment, as they have a great influence upon consumer behavior. Community Collection, for example, donates 20% of their profit to a charity cause while others offer an eco alternative for a great range of their products. Some companies adapt to cinematographic trends and promote their products using symbols from the vampire culture, for example, a culture that exploded when Twilight turned into a genre; this spring, if you did not have a miniature hobbit in the grocery area, you might have been considered outdated.
When rearranging their stores, retailers should rely on the results of neurodesign studies that may point to the colors that induce good moods and a relaxed state, the shapes of the shelves or efficient and intuitive store layouts, created especially to prevent consumers from missing out products.
People have turned shopping into a weekend leisure activity similar to any other one. That is why the ambient and store layout must induce a state of wellbeing without creating anxiety or claustrophobia when crowded. Such studies that use neuromarketing techniques and methods are also extremely efficient in the online industry, where the designers have to come up with the design concept of a website or the user interfaces for a shopping app.
Neuromarketing can help retailers discover a more efficient way of displaying products on a shelf, by pointing out to elements that attract consumers’ attention or elements that divert them from the merchandise.