Every year, the retail industry continues to evolve and leaders must stay ahead of the curve to ensure their businesses continue to attract and retain customers. Delivering a personalized experience based on a customer’s browsing history, previous purchases, and interests is just one of the many ways that retailers are connecting with customers today.
As business leaders build their 2020 strategy, there are several retail trends to keep in mind, including: the growth of social shopping, visual search tools, flexible payment options, data exploitation for sales, and more.
1. Growth of Social Shopping
Social platforms are taking eCommerce one step further. Once used to only share news or pictures, Facebook and Instagram now allow users to complete purchases directly through the applications. Three out of every five shoppers discover products on Instagram and 78% leverage Facebook to find new products.¹ Considering social media usage and Generation Z coming of age, social shopping is not just a nice-to-have, but a must-have for retailers moving forward.
A new generation of shoppers means that retailers must connect with their audience in new ways. Giving customers the opportunity to make purchases directly through social platforms that they use daily can increase reach and the likelihood of a purchase. In fact, a recent study found that 72% of Instagram users have completed a purchase after seeing it on the platform, highlighting the need for in-app purchases.²
Despite the many benefits of investing in social shopping, retailers are still hesitant to adopt Instagram Checkout, as it eliminates opportunities for cross-sells and upsells. Additionally, using native applications to control the checkout process minimizes the data that retailers themselves receive. Data insights are essential to understanding customers and creating products that meet their needs. Retailers are hopeful that future iterations of Instagram Checkout can integrate with their own systems to improve data quality.
2. Leverage Visual Search Tools
For years, consumers have used Pinterest to pin items of interest, with clothes and accessories being one of the most popular categories. The social media channel enhanced this capability with the introduction of Pinterest Lens in 2017. Lens enables users to take pictures of apparel in retail stores and find those products online. Finding in-store products online can help consumers find a deal, or accessorize properly for a specific outfit. Pinterest Lens has been very popular since its introduction. Today there are over 600 million visual searches a month using the technology.
Visual search is growing in popularity among large retailers and over time, smaller retailers will be able to leverage the technology as well. Retailers find that the path-to-purchase is shortened as customers can quickly find products of interest and complete checkout. Visual search also connects the online and offline shopping experiences. Retailers can connect the dots between a customer’s visit to the website and their time in a brick-and-mortar store location.
While visual search helps bridge the omnichannel experience, its true worth comes through social proof. People can quickly find out where their favorite celebrities got their new outfits from and bring greater visibility to brands. Additionally, visual search clicks are trackable to give retailers insights into a customer’s path-to-purchase.
3. Widespread Adoption of Flexible Payment Options
In addition to visual search, many retailers have invested in flexible payment methods for customers. Cash and credit are no longer the only acceptable forms of payment. Modern point-of-sale systems come equipped with the ability to process mobile payments through Apple Pay, Google Pay, and more using NFC technology. Online, some stores take PayPal, allowing customers to pay directly from their bank accounts. In 2018, purchases made through mobile payment eclipsed $120 billion.4
Customers who have the freedom to choose their preferred payment method are more likely to have a positive experience and continue to shop with a specific brand. Additionally, the use of mobile payment options adds a layer of security for customers who are fearful of credit card fraud. Mobile payment providers like Apple Pay and Google Pay generate virtual credit card numbers to share with the terminal, protecting a customer’s personal information.
Retailers should have a POS system that gives customers the flexibility they desire. This can help attract a wider audience, especially if a competitor does not accept certain payment types. Beyond a competitive advantage, having the latest technology can help increase sales and reduce cart abandonment.
Related reading: 3 Reasons to Have NFC Technology In Your Retail Store
4. Exploit Big Data to Increase Sales
In recent years, big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning have become more prevalent. Retailers can use these technologies to better serve customers every step of the way. Sales associates can gain better knowledge of customer preferences, retail store managers can ensure that the most popular items are in stock, and retail marketers can position their brand with a message that resonates with the target audience to ultimately increase sales. Additionally, online, AI-based chatbots can help customers locate items and also provide additional recommendations based on responses, purchase history, and browsing behavior. A Gartner report highlights that 85% of retail customer interactions online will be managed through artificial intelligence.5
Insights can also be leveraged to find out what channels customers are interacting with the most, best-sellers, products of interest, and more to shape the retail marketing strategy for the months to come.
Runit’s cloud-based integrated inventory management and POS system can help retailers achieve customer experience and sales objectives for retailers as they prepare for 2020. Having modern infrastructure in place can be the difference for retail brands looking to grow next year and in the years to come.
To learn more about our inventory management and POS system, contact a member of our team today.