As always, with a new year comes new trends in the world of retail. From emerging ecommerce channels to new trends to increase footfall into bricks and mortar stores. Consumer PR Director Jane Woodhead gives her thoughts on the top retail trends to keep an eye on in 2020 and offers insight into what brands need to consider as we enter the new decade.
INSTAGRAM LAUNCHES AS AN ECOMMERCE CHANNEL
Checkout on Instagram is due to revolutionise the way we shop. Instagram has long been a channel for consumers to discover products, but the Checkout integration means that the social app is now also a place to purchase.
And with Adidas CEO, Kaspart Rorsted, claiming that the app’s new feature was responsible for a 40% growth in sales in Q1 of this year, it’s now vital for both online and offline stores to have a social media presence in order to maximise their selling power.
THE RISE (AND FALL?) OF CLICK AND COLLECT
Home deliveries just aren’t convenient for the average shopper anymore. And with online orders cashing brick and mortar stores out, click and collect is a great way for brands to get their shoppers back instore.
So how can brands reduce the rates of uncollected orders? By ensuring the customer experience is as quick and easy instore as it is online. It’s all about providing a consistent and fluid approach from online channels to dealing with real life customer service assistants. Ensuring your store is clearly signposted, managed and queues are kept moving are basic requirements that many well-known retailers are still failing to deliver.
Online fast fashion stores have altered the way we pay for our shopping forever with shop now, pay later options like market favourite Klarna. With Pay later, you can pay for your order 14 or 30 days after shipping, depending on the store – meaning if you want to return items, you don’t have to pay for them and wait for the money to go back into your account. Even better, shoppers can choose to repay over several months, although this does require a credit check first.
Fashion retailers – both online and offline – have flocked to be a part of this growing trend. From high street favourites like Topshop and H&M, to online giants In The Style and ASOS, this is a firm favourite with the younger generation.
Heavily promoted by social media influencers, the brand has cleverly used fashion hauls as a means to grow its brand awareness. How have traditional stores responded? With the ability to now pay using Klarna instore too. It’s all very simple, the cashier registers the purchase via the Klarna system and an email will be sent to the customer to confirm how they would like to pay (14 or 30 days later, or split the total amount into 3 monthly payments), a confirmation email is sent to both the cashier and the customer and voilà, it’s all done!
AN ALTERNATE OFFERING – RESERVE NOW, PAY LATER
To compete with the Pay later incentive, Argos responded by offering its shoppers the option to reserve a product instore to pick up later. They give their online shoppers 24 hours to arrive in store to pay and collect the item meaning shoppers can ensure the product they want to purchase is in stock, as well as coinciding their high street shopping session with their online orders.
More and more shops are jumping to get involved, with big names like Next, Currys and even Asda, offering a similar service.
FOCUS ON BRAND LOYALTY AND REWARDS
H&M has always been at the forefront of championing its shoppers. Its H&M club is no exception. Launched in 2017, the loyalty scheme is open to all customers, providing a range of promotions.
However, the project has gone from strength to strength throughout 2019. With birthday discounts and loyalty point offers based on how much you spend, the brand has always known how to put the customer first. The app also boasts a free click and collect service (again promoting in-store visits), shop now, pay later options as well as access to pre-selected sales.
Understanding the individual needs of your shoppers is paramount. Only then will you be able to develop incentives that will truly appeal to them and create a sense of brand loyalty – which is essential in such a competitive market. So many retailers now offer loyalty points, but it’s the rewards that coincide with them that will make you truly stand out. Remember one size does not fit all, and the same goes for the rewards that will appeal to your varying customers.
The move follows changes seen by competitors Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters who launched similar services earlier this year. Available only at its flagship store in Stockholm and members of its loyalty programme, the brand is trialling a rental collection of 50 pieces for approximately £28 per week. All in a bid to attract and retain younger audiences who are more socially responsible and invested in reducing climate change. This is a trend to watch as we live through this new decade.
You might be able to rent your clothes from H&M soon.
Ensuring your brand is as environmentally friendly as it can be is vital. Brands like Zara have already pledged to make all their clothing and accessories from 100% sustainable fabrics before 2025, but the quicker you can start making an impact the better. It’s also imperative that any pledges you make are carried out and that you have a long-term plan in place – it’s about adding a new stream to your mission statement, rather than a slapdash job to momentarily boost sales. H&M, like other brands offering a rental service, have taken a stand. Along with their initiative of encouraging shoppers to return unwanted clothes to them to be recycled, this is a strong strategy to align your brand to a greater good.
THE RISE OF THE ROBOT
As with many of these trends, a lot seem focused on trying to encourage those at home, who may typically prefer online shopping, to come in-store.
Ikea has always been great at encouraging users to come in-store, with carefully planned shopping routes and layouts, food options and setups to allow shoppers to see products in a home setting. But they decided to go one step further.
In 2019, the Swedish brand updated its augmented reality app, Place, to allow users to create a wish list, see a curated feed of collections but most importantly, to give them the opportunity to test out multiple Ikea products and furniture at one time.
But AR and VR isn’t limited just for online shopping apps. Walmart became a sponsor of Jurassic World’s AR game, making the stores a virtual supply depot for gamers. Meanwhile, US-based Tilly’s, a teen surf and sport clothing retailer, offered a back-to-school experience in-store. AR was used via the Tilly’s app to create a scavenger hunt where shoppers searched for three coins – while exploring the products. Collecting all three coins resulted in a coupon for 20% off and entry into a grand prize draw worth several thousand dollars.
We worked with Liverpool ONE to deliver an exciting augmented reality dinosaur experience on-site (akin to Pokemon Go) where players could hatch, feed and fight dinosaurs across the retail destination. We were able to encourage increased visitation to the site, all while encouraging increased spend instore which just shows how AR and VR can be great for both online and offline engagement. But it’s not all about encouraging people to visit the destination, it’s about ensuring the time they spend with the brand is seen in a positive way – for both parents and children!
CREATING A MORE ENJOYABLE INSTORE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Sephora hit the headlines in 2019 for their new ‘introvert baskets’, allowing customers to choose between two coloured baskets. The red indicating the shopper would like assistance, while the black indicating the person prefers to shop alone.
The colour-coded system saves the time and effort of their sales assistants, whilst keeping them motivated (no-one likes repeatedly trying to help someone and being knocked back). Sephora can then ensure that their employees concentrate on the people who actually require assistance and spend more time focussing on their shopping needs. More importantly those who are put off by overly friendly sales assistants will be encouraged to not only come in-store but make repeat visits.
What do you think will be the big retail trends as we move into the 2020’s?
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