2014 was a good year for many retailers. Phenomena such as the overseas shopper with seemingly bottomless pockets, emergence of shopping events like Black Friday and increased innovation within retail technology, meant that the balance sheet for 2014 was quite pleasing on the eye. But all of this will count for nothing if retailers are unable to build on this progress to ensure more success in 2015.
Asif Khetani at BT Expedite has listed 10 trends that they believe retailers need to pay particular attention to in order to make the most of the year ahead.
- Black Friday, Cyber Monday and media frenzied shopping events
Despite the astronomical figures reported on the back of shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is no denying that many consumers were not pleased with how these days unfolded. From crashing websites to unfulfilled purchases, retailers will have to get their acts together across various departments to make the most of these shopping events in 2015 and keep consumers interested. There is a need for them to invest in agile infrastructure to support the offers they have available and the increased activity triggered across their various channels or risk consumers becoming disinterested in these shopping events.
- The increase use of iBeacons to promote/offer personalised discounts
As mobile devices become increasingly central to the shopping experience, retailers are exploring various ways to incorporate them into their offering as another touch point for consumers. iBeacons are still relatively new, but retailers are recognising it allows them to add a layer of personalisation that they had previously been unable to achieve. The trend is away from mass marketing techniques and, instead a connection with consumers in a context that is particular to them, thus enhancing the customer relationship and in turn loyalty. iBeacons offer retailers the opportunity to do this better than any other solution available on the market.
- The persistent basket
One of the biggest annoyances of online shoppers is the fact that most retail websites are unable to save shopping cart contents beyond a few hours. This means they have to go through the often tedious repeat process of locating the product they are interested in every single time they log in. Persistent basket is available on outlets such as Amazon, where customers can mark products one day with the aim of coming back for it a few days later. This might seem like an obvious gesture but it improves the customer experience, can save sales and can influence loyalty. It also helps retailers deal with the issue of abandoned shopping carts by putting the power in shoppers’ hands as to whether or not they want to proceed with a purchase.
- Higher prevalence placed on personalisation (day/night, weather, geography, event-led)
Personalisation is the next big frontier for retailers as they seek to add more context to their communications and move away from one-size-fits-all mass marketing methods. With a mass of content vying for consumer’s attention, retailers are doing everything they can to differentiate themselves from competitors. With shorter attention spans and more platforms than consumers can keep up with, the retailers able to make the most of consumer’s appetite for content will be the ones that go the extra mile to connect on a personal level.
- The re-emergence of the luxury fashion segment
Now that it seems the worst of the recession is over, many consumers are taking the opportunity to treat themselves to luxuries they have denied themselves over the last few years. And retailers are indulging them. 40% of high-end brands don’t sell via the web and some commentators have predicted that digital could be ‘the next China’ for the luxury industry, adding about $43 billion in sales by 2020, meaning there is an opportunity for retailers to cash in. And as most consumers now trust peer reviews more than sales assistants, it is surely only a matter of time before the 40% establish some sort of online presence to ensure that they are making the most of consumer interest.