We are already in the much-anticipated year of 2020, the year of many predictions and projections in the business industry. With the awful Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some businesses may be shutting down, but it also creates an avenue for small yet resilient businesses to grow.
This highlights the need for businesses, especially the retail industry, to stay ahead of competition and make the most of the situation. For this reason, we will be looking at 5 emerging trends that the retail industry should take advantage of to stay ahead. The key is to create the sense of a personal shopping experience for the consumer whether shopping in-store or online.
- Product Customization
In an industry where a lot of people offer almost the same type of product with a different brand name, product customization makes the difference. Brick-and-mortar stores and the e-commerce sector now offer their customers an option to customize their purchase. It is not surprising why offers like embroidery, monograms, unique color schemes, and the likes are offered to customers to set their products aside from that of the rest of the world.
With product customization comes an opportunity for consumers to get products designed specifically to meet their needs, wants, and styles. This trend is evident in the move by Nike to allow its customers to customize their sneakers. Levi also offers personalized embroidery on their jeans for customers to create their own unique pair.
Brooke Johnson, a custom embroidery specialist, states why customization is gaining momentum: “Levi’s personalized embroidery, for instance, offers users unique pieces that help in lengthening the piece’s lifetime. And just as people may assume, this initiative is not decreasing their sales but instead becoming a trend that people are embracing.”
- Augmented Reality
A situation where consumers are provided with a seamless shopping experience that allows them to combine physical and virtual environments is what Augmented Reality (AR) entails. Here, retailers make it possible for customers to find the products they are interested in while giving them a feeling of shopping in-store which they can enjoy without leaving their homes.
It has also been shown that consumers, especially American consumers, prefer this method according to a study which showed that 68% of shoppers prefer shopping from stores that offer AR. The success behind AR is that it allows consumers to test out products they like in their environment or where they intend to make use of the product to be sure it fits. Wayfair offers AR with their furniture to reduce operating and shipping costs, and more importantly, customer returns.
- Same-day Delivery
One trend that will gain serious attention this year is same-day delivery. Amazon started with its 2-day delivery when customers shop through their Prime program before moving on to next-day delivery. Customers certainly took advantage of the opportunity. Likewise, when PWC started offering same-day delivery, they noticed that 88% of their shoppers were very comfortable with this option.
Same-day delivery may have kickstarted in 2018, but we see it becoming a preferred trend in 2020. Amazon’s Prime Air introduction of 30 minutes delivery through their drone technology is just development that shows how seriously customers value this trend.
It is not surprising that chatbots are also becoming a more preferred option for customers as they prefer them to calling customer service centers. 65% of millennials in this survey revealed that they would rather have chatbots attend to them in resolving customer-related questions than call a phone number. With the latest advancements in AI, chatbots are being made to communicate in a natural human language with relevant answers to questions.
We don’t really know why customers seem to prefer this option to speaking with a real-life human, but we understand that it eliminates wait time and provides them with solutions to most of their inquiries without having to spend much time or money on calls. Besides, chatbots also enable retailers to attend to more customer issues than would have been possible with just humans.
- Social Shopping
“In recent times, it is hard to separate e-commerce from social media. In fact, any serious-minded retailer who isn’t making use of social media yet, is probably losing a lot of customers and ultimately, money. Customers make heavy use of social media and are usually exposed to sales on such media. Therefore, retailers are taking advantage of this opportunity to offer them products with just a click of a button instead of having them browse through their entire website to find products they are interested in ”says Christine Jones, founder of GoMontana,a deals aggregator website.
In 2020, we see a lot of partnerships between retailers and social media influencers all in an effort to reach more customers and closeout on more deals.
These 5 trends are sure to take the retail industry by storm in 2020 with long lasting effects. It is a call on retailers to step up their advertising strategy with some of these trends to leverage and increase sales.