The lines between offline and online are blurring, bringing new challenges for the retail industry. The digital transformation has had an effect on consumer behavior and their shopping habits, causing retailers to adopt new channels to connect with their customers. Retailers continue to adapt as the retail industry reshapes itself. New forms of shopping emerge making agility paramount to overcome new challenges and stay relevant for consumers.
Nevertheless, many believe that when normality strikes back, many behaviors will disappear. This poses a risk, by not investing in adequate measures retailers may fall behind in their path to digital transformation. Even though we continue to live in uncertainty, four trends will remain long after the pandemic is gone.
1. Use data to create personalized messages
As consumers embrace digital channels, retailers can use these channels to gather insightful information about their customer’s interests and behavior and turn them into meaningful messages. Retailers are changing how they communicate with consumers and are moving towards personalization when it comes to their messages. Personalized communication can have a positive impact on the consumer’s shopping experience. Ads personalized according to consumer interest may result in higher engagement and better outcomes when guiding consumers to purchase.
The consumer’s decision-making process has become more complex than ever. The customer journey involves plenty of touchpoints where consumers search for information about the product or service they intend to purchase. Retailers must deliver the correct information at the precise time of the journey to help consumers make an informed decision and guide them to purchase. That is why personalization is essential because consumers receive information related to their interests which can result in a positive shopping experience. In this way, retailers can influence the decision-making process and achieve an effective outcome.
2. An omnichannel strategy is crucial
Creating personalized communication is just the beginning. Retailers need to determine through which channels they will communicate their messages and which are the most efficient ones. How consumers interact with retailers and brands has changed dramatically. Retailers need to shift their focus and build a consumer-centric approach by being present where their consumers are.
Retailers need to shift their focus and build a consumer-centric approach by being present where their consumers are.
Through an omnichannel strategy, retailers can create seamless connections with their consumers. Offline and online touchpoints both continue to be relevant for consumers. For this reason, retailers need to build an integrated experience between these channels. An omnichannel approach will help retailers boost customer loyalty by creating seamless user experiences across the customer journey. Building excellent experiences for consumers is becoming a requirement for retailers, this includes online and in-store experiences. Having an omnichannel vision will enable retailers to be innovative and prepare for what is next.
3. Online and offline channels feed off each other
Consumer needs have changed drastically, we have seen an increase in e-commerce but as normality starts to approach, consumers continue to return to the physical stores. During the last year, purchases have been planned and made through digital channels. But consumers have been longing for the feeling of returning to the stores and being able to physically experience their favorite products. According to Google, by 2024, 78% of purchases will be made in-store. It does not mean that digital channels will start to be less valuable, but on the contrary, online and offline channels feed off each other.
What consumers are expecting is seamless shopping experiences that integrate online and offline channels. As we mentioned before, the customer journey has become more complex and chaotic, forcing retailers to provide relevant and valuable information for their consumers to make a decision. For this reason, retailers need to build a bridge between online and offline channels, because their consumers can go back and forth between these channels when planning their shopping. The upcoming challenge for retailers will be to provide an integrated shopping experience between online and offline.
4. Prioritize sustainable digital solutions
As consumers begin to embrace progressively environmentally friendly products and services, retailers need to shift to a more eco-friendly approach. A study from IBM shows that 77% of consumers are looking for sustainable and environmentally responsible companies. Now more than ever, retailers are being watched by consumers. Their actions will determine whether consumers will continue to buy their products or switch to another brand. Retailers need to show that they are committed to socially responsible practices.
Collaborating with companies that offer sustainable solutions can help retailers develop an eco-friendly approach through digital marketing
Collaborating with companies that offer sustainable solutions can help retailers develop an eco-friendly approach through digital marketing. An example of this would be reducing their print catalogues by transforming them into digital catalogs. Digital marketing solutions can also help retailers spread their communication through different channels and reach a broader audience without the impact print has on the environment.
While retailers continue to adapt to a constantly changing environment, they must start preparing for what is here to last. There is no certainty about what the future holds for the retail industry, but it is possible to identify trends that will remain here for the long run.