The million-dollar question: What is the future of retail? What will it look like, how can retailers prepare for this new reality, post-COVID?
Walking away from Shoptalk – held for the first time in person in 2 years, with over 10,000 attendees, 500 sponsors/exhibitors, and over 250 panelists, including CEOs and leaders of Walmart, Macy’s, Best Buy, William Sonoma, and more – it’s clear that retail has evolved, even from last year, and will remain resilient (always great to hear!). Listening to the panelists, weaving in and out of exhibits, and networking throughout the conference, retailers were left with 3 clear takeaways – with one common thread of experiences – to become successful leaders in their space:
- The Metaverse and Retail: One size does not fit all
- Brick and Mortar shopping is back with a vengeance!
- Delivery speed can have the largest impact on customer satisfaction
The Metaverse and Retail: One size does not fit all
Gen Z is already in the metaverse showing that they are primed for a virtual future. Covered by Robin Report, retail in the metaverse is in the experimental phase, and interest is piqued by both retailers and their customers. The Metaverse, an experience in itself, has the ability to make online shopping more immersive, engaging, and useful, creating a space closer and closer to shopping in-store while at home. This is not, however, a call to action to rip out brick and mortar storefronts, nor to revamp entire web pages to implement the Metaverse. It is a call to action to utilize the Metaverse to enrich the customer experience, taking key learnings from, specifically, Gen Z customers. For retailers considering stepping into the Metaverse, it is imperative to intentionally create community, experiences, and engagement as an addition to, not as the backbone of, a brand.
Brick and Mortar shopping is back with a vengeance:
Physical stores remain ‘the most preferred shopping destination’, and should come as no surprise as brick and mortar sales rose through most of 2021. However, even with the rise in sales in brick and mortar, competition for consumers and dollars continues. So how can retailers win? Through experiences.
- Deliver hyper-personalized experiences: ‘80% of consumers are more likely to buy from businesses that offer more personalized and meaningful experiences.’ Heather Bennett, EVP, Marketing and eCommerce of Michaels stores, a panelist at Shoptalk, spoke to the importance of leveraging eCommerce to drive personalized experiences and their ability to scale over 20,000 classes in 12 months. Through streamlined operations, proper data capture, and the ability to refine their experiences, Michaels saw a 70% increase in brand perception.
- Perfect your omnichannel experiences: The omnichannel retail environment is here to stay. The in-store and online convergence will need to become more seamless; with many retailers mastering the art of Buy-Online-Pick Up-In-Store (BOPIS) by 2020 and 2021, they’ll certainly continue expanding on those efforts as time goes on.
- ‘Phygital’ retail experiences are now the norm: Phygital retail experiences use digital means to further enhance in-store experiences and vice versa. Shoppers can use either a mobile coupon or scan an in-store QR code to learn more about a product, engaging in the phygital shopping experience. This provides valuable insights about the customer to the retailer to enhance their shopping experiences.
Delivery speed can have the largest impact on customer satisfaction:
Whether it’s same-day, next-day, or 2-hour delivery and BOPIS, curbside, or ship from store; 80% of American consumers say that speed and convenience are the biggest drivers of satisfaction. Speed is now a part of the retail experience. It’s imperative for retailers to raise the bar for convenience and delivery speed, and many are rising to the occasion. So how can retailers stand out in the field?
- Invest in new strategies around in-store fulfillment and curbside delivery options, allowing customers to touch products and interact with the brand faster. Walmart leads the industry in this area, making up 25.4% of all click and collect (BOPIS, fulfillment, etc.) orders in 2021 (picking up $1 for every $4 spent on click and collect.)
- Offer seamless, low-cost shipping options, convenient delivery, and return options to stand out from the competition. Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of UBER, stated ‘we can out Amazon, Amazon on a local basis’ to power online commerce. Executing on single smaller deliveries, to win overall customer loyalty on future and larger deliveries.
- Provide clear communication of delivery expectations, as early as possible in the buying process.
In summary, Shoptalk has shown that in retail, it is important to focus on what your customers expect – meaningful experiences. In 2022 you can be sure more customers will be in the Metaverse, on their computers, and in your stores; they expect simplicity, a personalized experience, and prompt delivery.
For additional thoughts or advice, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].