Retail has invariably changed and evolved over the past 10 years. A decade ago, it would’ve seemed crazy that you could get all your Christmas shopping done online. That knowledge would have definitely eased the pain of heading out to the mall on Black Friday every year. Even though some consumers are just getting used to vast commercial changes, retail marketers have to stay much more ahead of the curve — especially if they want to predict the monumental shifts that are bound to come in the future.
2020 will close out years of dynamic changes, but here are four predictions to kick off the new year.
1. Social Commerce Will Escalate
The gleaming storefronts that previously pulled in window shoppers now exist on social media channels. Today’s consumers are not only more online and more mobile, but more apt to find the things they want via these channels. They also expect the same sort of tendencies from their favorite brands. Just as commerce and the Internet converged, the lines between social media and e-Commerce are blurring as well.
Commerce now comes to people where they are — and people are mostly browsing via their apps and online profiles. The overwhelming amount of time spent, especially by younger generations, on apps makes social commerce the breakout e-Commerce marketing trend in the next year and beyond.
Social media window shopping will escalate in 2020 in large part because of the established niches that platforms like Instagram, Snapchat or newcomers like TikTok have above normal marketing avenues. This is where retail marketers need to go to find the real disruption to traditional methods of mounting successful retail strategies.
2. Brands Will Breathe New Life Into The Shopping Experience
Getting off of your couch at home to go shopping at an actual brick-and-mortar store has its benefits, but presenting only an in-store experience cannot be the only trick up the retail marketer’s sleeve anymore.
The variety of storefront locations may be overwhelming. Shoppers tend to find what they want and simply stick with those products for easy online ordering — never to go back to a store location ever again. Companies that rely on those locations can still strive for innovation without abandoning real life experiences, even when convenient tech has pushed most shoppers online.
In 2020, more brands will create online experiences to inspire shoppers, and provide key reasons for them to both stay online and go into a storefront. To succeed, they’ll have to establish the customer journey as a continuous, complementary digital-and-tangible process.
Platforms are introducing improved personalization capabilities that enable people to discover new products, matching their tastes and then connecting them with inspiring ideas to continue the shopping experience beyond a one-time purchase. Curated content can be as simple as accessing wish lists or connecting consumers with personal shoppers.
And it’ll help when it counts. According to a Toluna survey, 87% — the overwhelming majority — of shoppers say brands help them find the right products when planning for holiday shopping.
3. Validation Will Matter More
Brand names matter. However, shoppers increasingly look for — and base buying decisions on — peer and influencer reviews of products and specifics like color, fit and quality.
The old way of drumming up interest in a product was to feature a big celebrity in an ad campaign or two, with such public figures being considered a big enough draw to actually get consumers interested enough to buy. Today, the power of a handful of superstars has dwindled, with influencers and official peer reviews becoming drivers of retail clout.
The current retail landscape may be dominated by places like Amazon that hold an iron grip over market share. But there is an understanding and acceptance that celebrities, influencers, and officially endorsed peers will endorse products. Consumers across all age groups use the comments to assess products and customer service levels. This was spurred by social and commerce platforms expanding their capacity for endorsements, alongside the newly enhanced power that influencers and the like yield in such niches to make small brands quickly relevant.
4. Same-Day Shipping Must Be The Norm
Speaking of Amazon — it and other platforms such as Uber Eats have raised the bar for everyone else in terms of shipping times. The ability to have a successful e-Commerce platform just isn’t enough. It’s all about getting the product in the consumer’s hands.
While consumers tend to go online to avoid crowds and long lines, plus the ability to target the specific products they want on their own time, online retailers counteracted by creating dynamic, easy-to-navigate, and sometimes mobile-first e-Commerce strategies that allow shoppers to find the items they want and easily check out. But they still don’t have the instant gratification of using items they buy, or trying clothes on before they make a purchase.
The ability to provide nearly instant access to products is the next wave in 2020. In general, the next big opportunity in retail may be logistics and outsourcing at scale. Same-day delivery should be democratized for retailers of all sizes.
The retail market is evolving, and competition is everywhere. But by incorporating the above into your marketing strategy and being ahead of the curve, retail marketers won’t have to worry about how to stay relevant when it comes to the next wave of retail trends in 2020.
As Executive Vice President of Global Business and Corporate Development, Jay Rampuria leads all business development strategy for Toluna. His focus is to drive long-term partnerships with the world’s largest advertisers, along with new product development through innovative client and data partnerships. Rampuria has nearly 20 years of leadership experience between early stage/venture-backed companies (RightNow, Island Data, Intelliseek/BuzzMetrics and Unmetric), as well as large enterprise organizations (EDS, Nielsen, McKinsey and Accenture).