Is everything getting earlier? Everything except me that is. I really mean everything about Christmas. With the first of these appearing a couple of weeks ago, my Facebook feed is steadily filling with pictures of smug friends alongside their trees beautifully dressed, and their halls festively decked. “Predictions for 2017” articles also abound, which makes me behind the curve at work as well as at home!
These are three of the hot retail trends we’re reading about, which resonate with us and that we’ll be watching with interest: -
Our firm favourite “personalisation” has, it seems, also captured the imagination of retail guru Mary Portas. While our focus remains on the data-driven marketing and mass personalisation, she spoke at a recent UK retail conference of the urgent need for the sector to apply personalisation to a consumer’s experience saying,
“By 2020, experience will take over product and price; people will be spending on experience and using their time creatively. By 2025, the ‘where’ will be dictated not by stores, but by consumers: they’ll shop where they want to.”
So, unique shopping experiences – online, offline or most likely a complex combination of both – will need to be tailored and individualised for these empowered and demanding customers.
Personalisation of a customer’s online path to purchase has rapidly become the norm – they don’t just anticipate it but expect it. Using buying behaviour, purchase history, preferences and other data means ecommerce sites already offer up the products a customer is most likely to respond to. But, with the touted widespread adoption of machine learning technology in 2017, many retailers will be using it to further automate purchasing. By “learning” and then predicting a customer’s most likely next action, pages will pre-load to speed up browsing, and preferred payment method /delivery options, etc. automatically served up to facilitate purchase.
We’re resigned to the notion of the disloyal customer, and have come to accept that brand loyalty is no longer “a thing”. In 2017 and beyond, loyalty won’t be recognised as a characteristic of the customer but a necessity that falls to the retailer to engender.
Retailers and brands are being encouraged to offer incentives and rewards that “maintain and peak customer interest” but which, critically, make it possible to track customers across multiple channels. Loyalty schemes will act as a “bridge” to make purchasing habits easier to capture and customers recognisable in-store at a time when, otherwise, they are not visible or connected to their online persona.
Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know exactly what’s around the corner. The only thing that is certain is, come 2nd January, Crème Eggs will be on the supermarket shelves again. Yay, bring it on! It’s not all bad…