As today’s tech-savvy millennial shoppers increasingly expect personalization and innovation from their favorite brands, it is ever-more important for retailers to deliver a consistent and sophisticated shopping experience across all channels. Achieving this requires investing in technology that can adapt to changing business needs as well as marketing strategies that allow for personalized 1:1 connection.
First and foremost, retailers should offer a reliable product, but cultivating long-term loyalty goes beyond the product and falls squarely in the land of brand perception. So much of who consumers shop with depends on how a brand makes them feel, and that often involves the personal interactions related to services.
In “The Store of the Past Meets the Shopper of the Future,” a recent report of 1,500 U.S. consumers, we discovered the Gen Z and Millennial shoppers favor convenience, innovation, immersive shareable experiences, and personalization—qualities that can be conflicting and nuanced.
Navigating these diverse preferences will require retailers to approach their customers the way service-focused industries do: by meeting and exceeding expectations in a way that delights customers and ensures their enduring loyalty. Think of it as retail as a service.
Give back time with convenience-driven services
Today, demands for our time are endless. Retailers that can give this precious and finite commodity back to consumers will earn their loyalty, much in the way that Amazon has become a staple to Millennial shoppers.
Investing in technologies that can evolve alongside your business, and optimizing the services you offer to make each store visit more efficient, will allow store associates to focus more on their personal relationships with customers and improve the overall shopping experience.
We’ve seen several stores, such as Nordstrom and Zara, offer the option to buy online and pick-up in-store, and others who offer the ability to return online purchases in store.
Retailers, like Indochino, who approach their store experience as a luxury service and offer complimentary hemming and fitting, have also seen success with customer loyalty. Tending to these finer details is a differentiator between retailers who sell the same (or similar) products and brands, and goes a long way in earning customer appreciation.
By using data algorithms to determine the best distribution practices, Verizon has been able to improve in-store customer experiences, while Target has improved shipping time by sourcing online orders from local stores rather than distribution centers.
In improving overall business functions, these retailers have been able to focus on better serving their customers and delivering a more convenient store experience, which ultimately gives time back to each shopper.
Delight customers with immersive experiences
Gen Z and Millennial shoppers value convenience and shareable immersive experiences equally. Fifty-one percent of millennials say they are more likely to continue visiting a retailer who uses technology to identify products based on their preferences, while 25% enjoy shopping as an experience they can share with friends and family.
We anticipate these numbers to rise as pop-ups and stores-within-stores become increasingly popular and mainstream. Macy’s’ recent acquisition of NYC concept store, Story, which partners with vendors and sponsoring companies to offer immersive and temporary product displays and selections, as well as pop-ups like Glossier’s San Francisco restaurant installation, are successful reflections of this trend.
Retailers looking to drive repeat visits and test new ideas should follow suit and capitalize on the multichannel shopping habits and tech-friendly perception of younger consumers. Using each channel as a way to support the other is a solid strategy for driving overall sales.
Less is more
Personalization is key, but over-marketing is a waste.
Fifty percent of respondents indicated they would unsubscribe from emails if a brand oversaturated their inbox. Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are less responsive to marketing than previous generations, making it doubly important to connect with the right people at the right time. Investing in technologies that capture and make your first party data actionable enables you to better understand your customers preferences and shopping habits.
This way you can hone in on when the best time to communicate with them is; being selective about communication is key to engaging high value customers.
Ultimately, knowing your customers and communicating authentically is the best way to build lasting brand relationships. Traditional retailers are slowly catching on, but certainly have opportunities to make online and in-store shopping experiences feel more like a personalized and catered service rather than a transaction.