In an industry as competitive as retail, innovation is what distinguishes the leaders from the laggards. Looking back on 2015, here are the top 5 innovative trends I’ve seen retailers leverage to revitalize customer experiences and drive ROI.
1. Creating differentiated customer engagement through digital in-store experiences
Differentiated customer engagement is the name of the game for retailers this year as brick-and-mortars ramp up their use of technology to redefine the in-store experience.
- Magic Mirrors at Neiman Marcus allow customers to view outfit ideas side by side
- Touchscreen catalogs and the ability to order champagne or coffee while shopping enhances the experiences at Rebecca Minkoff’s SoHo, NY store; RFID tagging creates an interactive dressing room environment to increase cross-selling and service levels
- Selfie walls at Juice Generation allow customers to Instagram their favorite juice creation
- ·Macy’s One Below at its flagship offers an entire floor dedicated to engaging the Millennial customer with 3-D printed jewelry as well as Levi’s and Fossil watch customization
- Tommy Hilfiger’s virtual reality fixture in its Fifth Avenue store provides shoppers a three-dimensional, front-row seat at fashion shows
2. Striking the balance between personalization and privacy
As retailers focus on customized experiences, they must be aware if the complex relationship between personalization and privacy. In the era of digital shopping, the ability to leverage Big Data or Data Lakes for personalization is no doubt alluring. However, it is essential for retailers to define customer engagement guidelines supported by the right technology to safeguard against a breach of consumer privacy and trust.
According to our recent Capgemini Consulting report, Privacy Please: Why Retailers Need to Rethink Personalization, customers believe the majority of retailers (86%) struggle with the balance between personalization and privacy. Only 14% of retailers are perceived positively by customers on both personalization and privacy initiatives. The differentiating factors of these leading retailers include their ability to successfully offer meaningful deals, customized products, and responsive customer service, while providing privacy options, customer’s control on personal data, and the assurance of data security.
3. Shoppable Content on Social Networks
The big players — Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube — are making bets consumers will respond to shoppable content while new players are also going after share of consumer wallet. Early research has yet to demonstrate the willingness of shoppers to adopt social shopping but that’s not stopping the addition of “buy” buttons and shopping sections to encourage ‘in the moment’ transacting.
- Facebook’s new curated shopping sections on its mobile app make it easier for users to shop via mobile devices
- Pinterest’s buyable Pins enables users to purchase from brands like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom from its 30 million Pins
- Twitter’s “Buy Now” button allows customers to discover and purchase a product directly from a Tweet in just a few clicks
- YouTube added a click-to-shop button to make its ads shoppable, increasing revenue for one particular retailer up to 3 times that of a normal ad
- Mik Mak is an emerging platform to watch as the first mobile video shopping network that brings the shopping cart experience to where people spend time
4. Innovative product delivery
With the holidays just around the corner, delivery is top of mind for retailers. This year, shoppers may not have to wait as long for presents because of same-day delivery through services like UberRUSH, Deliv, and Postmates.
Same-day delivery services are a hot trend for food and grocery delivery, but retailers like Macy’s and Kohl’s are quickly catching on to this innovative delivery service as a way to expand business while reducing costs and infrastructure needs. Retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart are taking delivery a step further by experimenting with drones.
As the holiday season approaches, same day delivery may be the key to increasing sales while fulfilling customers’ need for instant gratification…and last-minute gifts.
5. Mobile purchasing strengthens seamless e-commerce for customers
Forgot your wallet at home? Well, you’re in luck. Seamless mobile purchasing allows you to pay for your purchases through apps such as Level Up and phone features such as Apple or Samsung Pay.
While tap to pay adoption has been slow, the introduction of a new iPhone and the Apple Watch, as well as new EMV guidelines should help increase adoption. Tapping your watch or phone to pay at terminals in store is far easier than using your credit or debit card. It also allows for more freedom and flexibility. Major retailers like Macy’s, Bloomingdales and Whole Foods already accept Apple Pay and Android Pay. I anticipate that there will be an uptick in tap-to-pay usage this holiday season and in the New Year.