Four Chances to Win Shoppers at Stores in 2019

According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, more that 151 million people visited stores during Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year. The holiday shopping spree in stores is a great opportunity for brands to win new customers and build long-term relationships. According to a recent survey Square Root, 71% of U.S. shoppers said that the in-store experience is directly related to whether or not they become repeat customers. These findings were compared to the study about challenges U.S. retailers face in delighting customers and revealed four key areas for success in in-store in 2019.

The Front Lines

Associate can make shopper decisions and implement in-store changes. They also have the ability to improve customer service. Shoppers expect associates who are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about product and inventory. Customers expect answers in 26 seconds on average. 75% of respondents said they are less likely to shop again with a brand if their needs don’t get met quickly.

Our research shows that half of retailers believe their associate training could be improved despite their influence. An influx in holiday hires can lead to a greater demand for training investment. To be successful, store associates must have the ability to empower themselves. This includes briefing them about brand standards and educating them about their role in achieving companywide performance metrics.

Staying on top of Omnichannel Expectations

Shoppers today expect to find endless choices for the products they desire. According to 82% of respondents, stores should offer the same selection and variety as online. Brick-and-mortar customers also expect to be able, if necessary, to order items from other locations (87%) or online (93%).



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Increased omnichannel expectations can lead to increased inventory challenges for retailers. This includes stockouts and overstock issues, as well as making it harder to forecast inventory needs. These added complexities can be solved by giving teams one view of inventory across all channels. Only 45 percent of retailers claim they do not have this today. This improved visibility allows teams to align on inventory issues like stockouts or delays, allowing associates to make informed decisions about customer assistance.

Consistency is the Key

Shoppers might visit different stores and expect the same experience at each store. Shoppers expect a consistent experience at all locations. 74% of respondents say that it affects their willingness to return.

It is difficult to find the right balance between brand standards and providing a personal and local experience in every store. Only 48 percent of retailers say they can currently provide a consistent experience across all locations. Brands can provide a single view of all stores to their district managers, which allows them to maintain consistency and help the stores achieve the right balance between localization and standardization. Brands can identify potential growth areas and areas that need improvement. They also have the ability to build loyal customer bases by providing a consistent experience.

Are There More Problems Than Promotions?

Eighty-two per cent of shoppers believe that promotions increase their likelihood to shop in stores. While many brands are still pushing in-store or online-only promotions, 70% of shoppers expect that online promotional offers will be honored in physical stores. If these expectations are not met, 59% say they will be less likely to shop again with the brand in the future.

Retailers can make the most of promotions by aligning deals with omnichannel expectations and aligning their teams to work together. Brands can increase autonomy and agility by ensuring visibility throughout the organization, online and offline. This will help boost both the bottom line as well as the customer experience.

Store teams will have an impact on customer experience, loyalty, and brand performance in 2019. Teams will be better equipped to assist customers and exceed their expectations. This will set brands up for success in 2019 and beyond.

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It’s not easy to wow future consumers.

My family was a “mall rat” growing up. Shopping was my favorite pastime. It was where I could meet friends, escape from my parents and shop — which led to many purchases. I didn’t need to be wooed by the mall with special sales, rewards programs or unique spaces. You, like me and many others, know what the research says. They still shop in physical stores. These consumers are more diverse. These consumers shop differently, and they have very different expectations than previous generations.

What are the future prospects for retailers? Retail industry changes that are geared towards consumers are driven by three factors.

Automation of shopping

“Store” comes from “storage,” which is where goods are stored. While technology won’t replace brick-and-mortar stores, it will make shopping easier. Gen Z was raised with the mindset that everything can be bought online and never had to visit a shop. They go to stores because they want, not because they have to. And they expect retailers in-store to anticipate their needs just as well in the virtual world. The retail industry will only have one chance to provide shoppers with something unique in-store.

Bots now account for 80 percent of all purchasing bandwidth. This means that retailers have 20% of the market to stand out and differentiate themselves through a new model that caters towards what consumers want. These employees can act as consultants and advise shoppers based upon their knowledge and experiences. This includes experiences in-store that help people feel connected to one another and the community.

Living differently

Future consumers will be more concerned about sustainability. Sustainability is a growing concern. This includes the environmental impact of the materials used to make, pack, and ship goods as well as the ethical and behavioral choices of the people who work for the company. Gen Z is used to being able to use assets and not own them. Future consumers will be more open to renting services than they are to purchasing them. This allows for sharing of items that might have been bought previously. The environment and consumers both benefit. The definition of what it means to be consumer will change. Service providers will become more common in retail, allowing consumers to use their products without having to own them. This will also allow for the sale of pre-owned goods, thereby defining sustainability.

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Data-Driven Personalization

Future customers expect to be known. Mass messages and offers that do not demonstrate an understanding of their needs are insulting to future consumers. Many people from previous generations get a little nervous when advertisements start appearing for products they have *only* thought about. Gen Z expects retailers and anyone who wants to covet their business to be able to read their minds. My high schooler is receiving lots of marketing material from colleges. She expects that colleges will not just mention her accomplishments but also her interests in theater and history. This expectation extends to all interactions, even retail.

Wining Retailers will take stock of both big and small data

If retailers want to thrive and survive in the future, they need to reconsider their relationships with customers and the experiences that they offer them. This is where digitally native retailers can gain a better perspective. Because they have built their businesses to align with Gen Z values and practices, when they open physical stores, they are in tune with future consumers’ expectations. They are also focused on filling a gap in the consumer experience that the virtual universe did not offer.

Many physical retailers are now digital. In response to competition rather than the customer, they have jumped on board the big data bandwagon. They will always be playing catchup because of it. New competition and disruptive technologies are changing human expectations, values and behaviors faster than ever. Big data and an understanding of cultural shifts are key to the success of the winners. They have a better chance of changing consumer shopping expectations than being a victim or playing catch-up.

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