With the start of every new year comes resolutions, Dry January, Veganuary, ‘New Year, New You’, a look back at the year gone and some future predictions.
This year for me, there are no resolutions, meat and wine are still on the agenda and I am just as pedantic, sarcastic and sweary as I was in 2019 (if not more!), nothing new to see here. There is a lot to be said for being consistent and knowing what you are going to get!
Now if you are a futurologist you may have already predicted where I am heading with this…….
Let’s take a quick look at 2019, it’s been a challenging year for brands, from how people buy, to what they expect and want in a brand. Things are changing and that doesn’t look set to stop in 2020.
BRC figures released last week report that total sales for 2019 decreased by 0.1% making this the worst year on record and the first year to show an overall decline in retail sales. Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the BRC, highlights the impact the the political instability of 2019 has had on the public's confidence, in turn creating more conscientious and cautious consumers.
These figures make it easy to focus on the volatility of the retail sector, but if we flip it on its head and take a positive outlook - there’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in Retail.
The process of shopping has always been an integral part of everyone’s lives and technology has enabled it to become even more so. It’s easier than ever to research, find, and purchase products - in turn increasing the shopper’s expectation. This means it’s a must for brands to do more to stand out from the crowd, while still putting the customer first and delivering a fantastic customer experience.
Like many, I have spent hours researching the market, trying to predict what 2020 could look like for retailers. What’s the next big thing, the game changer that will keep retailers ahead of the curve?
So, what is the word on the (high) street:
Personalisation in-store is riding high - using store data to deliver the customer a more ‘joined up’ personalised retail experience;
Or simply making sure you/your brand is ‘omnichannel’ as omnichannel shopping is the future of the retail industry. Retailers have embraced online, leveraging digital to increase and enhance in-store experience. Shoppers no longer fully distinguish between online and offline channels with mobile technology helping to bridge that gap.
Or my personal favourite that brings all of this together, ‘phygital’- apparently we should be embracing it – whatever IT may be. As a side note whoever created this portmanteau is a bloody genius and they get a full house at bullshit bingo (for those of you that can’t sense it – yes, there is a hint of sarcasm there).
Let’s not forget two topics that have been, quite rightly, on the annual trend list since before I was born, sustainability and innovation.
These aren’t trends. Keeping up with and implementing them are a necessity not optional. No matter what sector, industry or type of business you are they are imperative to survive in the current climate.
Both topics will feature heavily on Communisis brand deployments 2020 agenda, so keep your eyes peeled on our new divisional linked in page for the next instalment of our innovation blog and also our view and approach to sustainability.
Back to these so-called trends, they are no different from those of 5 years ago, I like to think of them as topics that over the years have evolved and have just become part of the expectation of physical retail.
If retailers and brand owners believe that chasing the latest trends is what will keep them ahead of the curve, I think they are missing a trick. So, what is the answer?
Let’s go back to basics, K.I.S.S - Keep It Super Simple.
The fundamentals of physical retail haven’t changed and nor has the core shopper requirement - create a positive, memorable experience for the shopper and in return build trust, loyalty and ultimately a brand ambassador.
As a shopper what I would consider to be a positive experience is a store that’s easy to navigate, knowledgeable and helpful (not stalkerish) staff, a good range, quality products and competitive prices – I want to feel that I am getting value and that I am valued as a shopper. Not much to ask!
Creating an experience that ticks all the boxes requires some serious thinking. I believe if you have the right mix of understanding shopper behaviour, you utilise the right technology and then throw in amazing design and perfect execution – you are on to a winner.
Sounds simple - it is.
Don’t get sucked into the buzz word bingo. Get the basics right and execute them well. At the heart of retail is the shopper it always has been and always will be. Understand them, remove complexity whilst delivering a great customer experience. The rest will follow.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my take, do you agree or am I way off the mark? Are there any examples of where you think retailers do this really well?
In the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a review of the good the bad and not so good of Christmas in retail, give our divisional a page a follow to ensure you don’t miss out.