Personal. Adaptive. Valuable. Those are the three principles driving the future of retail, according to marketing agency iProspect’s September white paper. The agency’s proprietary consumer research was based upon its analysis of the shopping behavior and digital footprint of 6,220 consumers, male and female, between 21 and 74 years old, which are mass affluent and upper-class household income.
IProspect’s Andrea Wilson, vice president, strategy director and luxury practice lead, defined the first principle, personal, as “letting every shopper easily find relevant answers to their unique needs.” Furthermore, 77 percent of the study’s respondents said they prefer to use brands that reward and recognize loyalty, with Wilson’s example being Tory Burch.
“Tory Burch has both e-commerce and a brick-and-mortar presence,” she said. “And they were the ones that took a very aggressive step forward to combine them into a seamless experience. For example, a husband came in to a store trying to buy his wife a gift, having no idea specifically what he wanted to get. The sales associate had her ‘client book,’ which is essentially an iPad app, and she was able to look up the wife’s online wish list, her previous purchases, both in-store and online, and was then able to make specific recommendations.”
To better provide a personal touch to a consumer’s retail experience, Wilson suggested offering digital personal shopping and making smarter product recommendations. “There is external data that can be used,” she said. “One of my favorite examples is the company Stitch Fix, which does an excellent job of looking at Pinterest boards or Polyvore and noticing how a particular customer likes particular products or has particular trends that they are drawn to, and therefore are able to make very, very personal product recommendations that are spot-on.”
The second principle, adaptive, was defined as “allowing the consumer to see digital tools, strategies, responses and in-store experiences that shift in real time, based on the consumer’s real time input.” Added Wilson, “Imagine that your brand is a person, a friend, and you are talking to this consumer, but you’re just listening — you’re not adapting to the conversation. That can be extremely frustrating for a consumer, especially if they are showing this brand all of these clues about their personality and the brand is not responding or taking any of that information in.”
Fifty-one percent of the study’s participants prefer to talk face-to-face with a brand representative, versus online communication. “It’s a 50-50 split, so you have to provide both a fantastic online experience and a fantastic in-store experience because people want both, and they want both at different times,” she said, naming Burberry’s London flagship as a key example, which features mirrors that turn into digital screens with product information.
Lastly, valuable was explained as “offering authentic experiences that add value to their daily lives.” “Value” was further defined by three themes: offering helpful information, enhancing convenience and offering choices; saving time was also extremely important to the consumer, with 67 percent of participants willing to spend more money in order to save time. Wilson offered several examples of how to add value to a shopping experience through digital, such as live-chat options, customer service callbacks, detailed product information and the secure saving of pertinent customer information, such as credit cards and preferred delivery.