It’s 2019. Consumers are more informed than ever about their purchases and are dictating the shopping experiences that they want. For example, 78% of respondents to a consumer survey said that personally relevant content from brands increases their purchase intent. Meanwhile the technology needed to deliver the experience they want is changing rapidly – causing a veritable retail revolution. This means that every retail marketer needs to stay on top of trends and consumer desires and be prepared to shift strategies at a moment's notice.
What’s a good retailer to do?
To help you make sense of the industry disruptions of which you should be aware, we’ve put together the top five retail marketing trends and predictions for 2019.
- Offline and Online Channels Will Continue to Merge
Research is finding that shoppers, even millennials and Gen Z-ers who grew up with the Internet, aren’t interested in being 100 percent digital and still crave the experiences that come with shopping in a physical store. So, retailers are adopting more elastic strategies to keep up with evolving shopping preferences that give consumers the best of both worlds. On one side, marketplaces like Amazon and other D2C companies are building physical stores and pop-up stores. On the other side, traditional retailers like Kohl’s and Costco are increasing their e-commerce presence to stay relevant in the digital economy. Either way, brands need to work harder than ever to create a unified brand experience across their physical and digital presence.
- Machine Learning will Power Exceptional User Experiences
Retailers will embrace machine learning to provide hyper-personalized experiences to customers. They’ll unify consumer data across all enterprise systems in order to use machine learning across channels. Part of this change will be driven by consumers, who, according to Dana Klisanin, psychologist and futurist, will “increasingly realize the importance of interacting with each other and the natural world and will use AI to support such goals.” For example, grocery shopping will be allocated to AI (smart appliances), freeing up time for preparation of meals.
- Social Commerce Will Take-Off
It’s been a long time coming but this is the year the connected end-to-end approach to commerce happens. Consumers will be able to see a product in a social post and with a few clicks, be able to purchase it. In many cases, purchase and e-shop features will let consumers make that purchase right in their social feeds. This change transforms social media networks from a top-of-funnel channel to a bottom-of-funnel, conversion strategy. This means we’ll start seeing companies using Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more than just immersing consumers in the aesthetics and imagery of the brand but giving them a clear call to action: “swipe up to purchase the product”. For example, they may use Instagram Stories to take consumers “behind” the scenes of a photoshoot or video but allow viewers to be able to immediately purchase everything featured in the shoot. These changes imply that companies need to be able to track customer behavior across all of their channels, so that going forward, they can better predict and serve up targeted social posts
- Retail Stores Will Offer Unique Experiences
The newest generation of consumers doesn’t view shopping as a chore, but embrace it as an experience. In fact, according to research, millennials enjoy shopping as a pastime and want an elevated in-store experience, however they also expect a high level of convenience. They’re looking for seamlessness, uniqueness and engagement—the lack of any of these may deter them from making a purchase. But how do you determine what experiences they want? Analyzing customer data and social intelligence will help retailers understand what experiences customers are looking for. To augment existing first-party and zero-party data, brands will experiment with emotion metrics gathered via psychological (stated satisfaction) measures – for example, NPS, customer satisfaction surveys, and sentiment scores– and biological factors (eye-tracking), for improved overall customer understanding.
- Retailers Will Reduce Dependency on Third-Party Data
Instead, retailers will focus on data that customers own and willingly give to brands. For example, creating customer profiles in exchange for highly targeted and personalized offerings. This shift is due to a few high-profile events over the past few years within the marketing industry that have dampened people’s excitement about third-party data. As a result, companies like Facebook and the mainstream browsers are cracking down on what third party data they collect. To be clear, when its available, third-party data will still regularly be utilized by marketers who see value in it, but recent research shows 21% of marketers are already using less or anticipate that they'll use less third-party data over the next 2 years.