Five things consumers want from in-store non-essential retail in 2020 and beyond

16 July 2020
Author: Linzi McGuire

For the first time ever, we have six generations of shoppers existing simultaneously. Every shopper takes a unique path to purchase, and the bricks-and-mortar store remains a critical stop on the shopping journey, particularly for final purchases decisions. So, what do consumers want and how do these generations coexist? Here’s 5 things we think consumers want from non-essential retail stores in 2020:

1. Thrilling Experiences

While consumers can’t get their thrill from leisure in the same way they did before, they’re seeking experiences from other sources, including retail. Consumers seem to be more forgiving about the lack of experience in food retail, but when it comes to what is now known as non-essential retail, they’re seeking excitement and escape from the mundane. As lockdown lifts, we’re seeing consumers flock to the high street and retail parks, queueing for hours to step inside the doors and browse at their leisure; it’s an opportunity for social activity with friends. Retail therapy is definitely back on our list of things to do.

And, once inside the stores, we’re seeking rich experiences focused on social engagement, personalisation and technology integration.

2. Personalized Customer Service

Customers want in-person service they can’t get online. This is crucial to differentiating bricks and mortar retail from the one-dimensional online shopping experience. According to BRP consulting, 79% of consumers say personalised service from a retail professional is an important factor in determining where to shop.

Consumers want to feel connected to the brands they choose to support. Bricks-and-mortar stores offer the biggest opportunity to build community and foster connection. Only in stores can your customers physically engage with your products and your ambassadors.

In a study by bazaarvoice, 50% of consumers said that personalisation is very useful and improves the shopping experience. Consumers even said they would increase their in-store spending by 4.7% on average if they received better, more personalized service, while 41% said bad personalisation is enough to drive them to shop with a competitor.

3. Omnichannel Integration

A brand is only as strong as its weakest channel. Consumers don’t necessarily differentiate between a brand’s various channels and they want to have a positive experience whenever and however they choose to shop.

According to Bain 87% of consumers want a consistent experience across all shopping channels. Consumers expect a seamless transition between social media, website and shopping at your store. In retail today, the line between digital and physical retail is a blurry one. Shoppers might make a purchase online but pick up the item in-store. When shopping in-store, many consumers use their phone to look at product photos on social media, compare prices, or even check customer reviews. Consumers quickly switch between shopping channels, and they expect a consistent experience no matter how they are interacting with a brand.

4. Bargains are better in person

Perhaps the thrill of the purchase plays into this, but we think it’s more of a price driven issue. When items are purchased in person there’s less margin for error. Being able to see and feel the items, and conduct an in-person inspection of quality, materials used, size and colour, removes the likelihood that the item will need to be returned. It also means that consumers can forfeit the delivery (and potential returns) fee. There’s a reason why H&M, Primark and Ikea were all queued round the block when they first opened, and we don’t think it’s because they’re premium quality retailers. They all have three things in common: their products have a low price point, their products are functional for the everyday, and a high percentage of these products are somewhat disposable. The price and quality are good enough, but if the trend changes and their owners want to replace them, they can do so without feeling guilty or breaking the bank. In an earlier blog we mentioned that over half of consumers have reported that they’re trying to cut down their spending whilst focusing on value for money. We think this plays into this point.

5. Technology that prioritises convenience

While trends like virtual and augmented reality are alluring in bricks-and-mortar, consumers are more interested in technologies that remove friction and complication from the shopping experience. Bazaarvoice reported that fewer than a third of consumers say that in-store virtual reality features like virtual try-on or furniture visualization are important, while nearly half said it is important or very important for retailers to provide digital in-store experiences like auto-checkout, online ordering, and mobile offers, all of which make shopping easier and quicker. With health and safety concerns and government restrictions in mind, this is only likely to become more apparent in 2020 and beyond.

Lastly, we’ve included a bit of a wild card; consumers want to shop with companies who show a sense of purpose. We already know that consumers want businesses to show a community-minded sense of purpose, but at what level? 2020 has not been short on political and environmental activity - from covid-19 to #metoo to Black Lives Matter, it could be argued that consumers now are the most passionate and well informed we’ve ever seen. Across generations, they’re integrating all aspects of their life together. This means they expect brands and retailers to do the same. They’re creating persona brands for themselves and deciding if the brands they purchase add to or detract from their image. Trendwatching reported that 81% of consumers believe CEOs should express commitment to an inclusive hiring process, 60% of consumers will buy or boycott a brand based on its response to Black Lives Matter, and 90% of consumers globally want brands to partner with relief efforts or government agencies to combat the pandemic. Now more than ever, consumers are holding brands accountable for their actions and deciding if they align, morally and politically, with their own standards before they purchase.

Next week we’ll examine how these behaviours impact Retail. Head over to LinkedIn to follow our story on how we can help you sell more in retail, whether bricks and mortar or ecommerce. Or contact us to chat about how we can help your brand navigate the future or retail or discuss any other needs or services.

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