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Consumer spending behavior can change drastically by the generation. So, innovation in technology plays a major role in discovering data and utilizing data to help retailers weather this change in route towards bigger sales. 

We have identified three trends for retail and consumer CEOs to pay attention to as they battle competition in the demanding retail landscape of today. Use these as a starting point to build into your brand and edge out other merchants who are one google search away. 

Personalizing the Buyer’s Journey

At the end of the day everyone wants to feel special. As retail, especially eCommerce, continues to evolve, the relationship between customers and your brand in today’s age is determined by how customized their shopping experience is.

Today’s consumers are inherently more digitally savvy, notably Generation Z who has spent their earliest days on the internet dodging ad blockers and finessing age-gated websites. Brands try to sell to them every chance they can get, regardless of the platform. With that said, organic content that speaks specifically to them is a focus that retailers and consumer packaged brands have found powerful. Unfortunately, 80% of marketers aren’t personalizing their marketing efforts, according to a study by VentureBeat.

The excitement of a new app or a new wearable doesn’t resonate with Gen Z the same way it may thrill a millennial shopper. The Generation Z audience responds to experiences that are personalized to their liking, hence the value in consumer data these days. Gen Z is inclined to participate in the brand experience, and it’s the brand’s job to provide one worth engaging with.

Get your free retail report: Merging the Online and Offline Experience with AR

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It’s well-known that eCommerce retailers were early on personalizing the buyer’s journey. Most of the time this interaction was shown through personalized content and product recommendations targeting the individual needs and intent of each shopper. This generation almost expects these personalized interactions and they tend to weigh it against the brands that do.

Platforms like Amazon suggesting product recommendations based off of a holiday gift you bought for your Aunt is a prime example of retargeting. These luxuries are almost expected these days to the point where retailers are almost digital shopping assistants. Another example of a personalized customer experience in another territory is Facebook’s personalized newsfeed algorithm. The product is just as much a part of the marketing as the content itself.

At its core, personalization is tailored, timely customer experiences that win the customer in the end.

Leveraging Digital and In-store Experiences

Although retail stores have seen a reduction in foot traffic, brick-and-mortar locations generate a great amount of in-store shoppers from their digital sites.

According to a PwC survey, retail store visits fell from 35 billion in 2009 to 17 billion in 2013. In an effort to maximize your sales and maintain the loyalty of several generations of shoppers, it’s important to leverage both the in-store and digital shopping experience.

Digital interactions influence 36 cents of every dollar spent in a brick & mortar store.” In an effort to create a loyal customer base, it’s important to engage them through all channels with a seamless experience.

Shopping online allows for consumer insight and product customization. Ecommerce shoppers can change the colors of the couch they’re looking to buy, check a list of customer reviews, and even find similar items with a swipe of a finger. Although digital-first retailers eventually want to create a physical presence. They can’t provide perks like ordering products online to a store nearby or appease the customers who want to feel a product in-store first before buying online.

Yet, more in-store experiences need to leverage technology to allow buyers to make the same informed decision. The focus on both digital storefronts and brick-and-mortar store experiences to engage buyers in both arenas is a strong initiative for retailers in 2016.

Technology!

As innovation in technology advances, retailers should find news ways to engage customers all the while connecting their online and offline outlets.

Choosing an integrated POS system can be challenging and it usually comes down to the number of products in your inventory. Nonetheless, pairing your e-commerce content management system with your in-store POS system is essential and the solution is generally a single, comprehensive platform that integrates all channels for you. Some of the best all-in-one POS systems for retail include Shopify, ShopKeep, or Vend.

Amplifying the physical interactions for customers while shopping in-store is also a key driver behind garnering interested buyers.

Igniting in-store engagement can be done through a variety of ways via new technology:

  • Capitalizing on online channels by allowing customers to pick up online orders from your physical location.
  • For bigger retailers, create a mobile app where shoppers scan product bar codes to read online reviews for validation.
  • Offer kiosks or stationed tablets where customers can access your online catalog.
  • Accepting mobile payments through your POS system

Stores should consider all audiences when looking to engage shoppers on multiple mediums. Some CPGs and retailer brands have invested in augmented reality to bridge their online and offline efforts.

Augmented Reality as an Engagement Tool

Augmented reality (AR) has managed to merge the digital with physical in-store products and it has stimulated engagement that drives in-store sales.

Consumer confidence is a big factor behind abandoned purchases and augmented reality is helping to visualize products in a real way, without getting hands on. In-store, CPGs and brands are enabling AR images on the outside of their packaging. In this sense, shoppers can scan the product packaging and easily see what’s offered inside without them having to speculate.

Lego is in the process of implementing AR-powered kiosks and product boxes into retail locations of theirs around the world. Customers can use the kiosk to scan the box of the Lego kit they are considering purchasing, and show their children exactly what the finished product will look like, in 3D.

Online augmented reality actually brings the store to the eCommerce shoppers. Augment is an AR solution that has helped retailers show their inventory through augmented reality. Northern Lighting wanted their customers to try their products at home before buying them, so they use Augment to create interactive shopping catalogues. The premium lighting company allows buyers to pick from their online inventory and launch the virtual lamp at true-scale in the physical space in front of them.

Northern Lighting uses this AR catalogue, both in-store to show products that aren’t available on-site, as well as appeal to the online shoppers who want to personalize their experience. As the relationship between AR and retail continues to mature, augmented reality will have an impact in every stage of the process.

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