How Retailers Can Catch Up To The Customer

How Retailers Can Catch Up To The Customer

In this guest piece, Jo Goddard, Head of Quantitative Research at The Leading Edge (an Enero Group company) outlines three trends retailers need to get ahead of, and how.

Mylan Vu
Posted by Mylan Vu

Historically, retailers have been slow to adopt tech, and consumers are getting fed up.

Major retailers, like Myer and H&M, now have iPads in-store to help guide the customer throughout their shopping experience. But the sad news is they’re still about 10 years behind where the shopper wants them to be.

Personalised shopper experiences need to go beyond standard demographics. Retailers are looking at how they can sell matching red shoes to a woman in her 30’s who just bought a red work dress. But that particular woman wants so much more.

She wants the retailer to understand she bought the dress for a friend, not herself, that her signature colour is black, and she has her sister’s wedding coming. So the next purchase will actually be another dress – definitely not red shoes.

So what will this shopper think when she next visits the store and gets a notification about red shoes on sale? At best she will shrug and ignore it. At worst she could feel irritated and undervalued.

Retailers can’t just follow digital and CX trends, they need to be ahead of them. Here’s three to start with:

Omnichannel experiences – it’s not a straight road ahead, it’s a jungle gym you’re in

Corporate announcements like the acquisition of Dick Smith by Kogan.com shouldn’t have come as any surprise to those in retail, but it did.

Shoppers aren’t always going to look online before they go in-store, and they’re not always going to check in-store before trusting a brand enough to shop online. Every day, every shopper will want to engage with your brand as and when suits them.

Only a truly omnichannel experience that presents online, mobile, real-time and in-person opportunities to individuals will be seen as easy enough for customers to engage with. If any one of those pieces is missing or difficult to use, a better option becomes to shop with one of your competitors. And they will.

Millennials – forget them

The more we generalise certain age groups, subcultures, genders and sexual orientations, the more we distance ourselves from any chance to provide a truly personalised customer experience.

The term ‘millennials’ has become so over-used and over-hyped, it’s inevitably now grossly misunderstood. A critical factor to get attention from a millennial is treating each of them as an individual.

The more we research this age group, the more clearly we can see the need to stop treating them as a homogenous group.

Ten years from now, we’ll accept the terms millennial, senior, student, migrant, and mumpreneur should all be redundant for retailers. To get ahead, ensure these labels are only one tiny piece of the consumer puzzle, not a panacea for customer engagement.

Agile, nimble, disruptive – you either are or you aren’t

This isn’t about new technologies and social platforms popping up every day, though that’s important to recognise, too. This is about being able to nimbly adapt the customer experience delivery in real-time.

Perhaps as a rainstorm hits and your target customer decides against going out for groceries, or when Brexit is announced and suddenly a trip to London needs reassessment.

The shopping experience cannot be planned for a generic target demographic. It must be tailorable on the fly. Customers aren’t just demanding this of retailers, they’re expecting it. And when you can’t give them what they need, they’ll use a competitor who does.

This decision, by the way, will be made within a matter of seconds, and will often be shared via social networks.

While it’s certainly an exciting time to be in retail, there’s no denying that most businesses in this sector, large and small, need to make some serious changes.

To deliver exactly what the customer wants, at the precise moment they realise they want it, retailers need to ensure they’re always several steps ahead. How? Start with data, individualise the experience, and embrace continual change.