How Retail Vision Can Help Retailers Win Big in 2021
2020 ushered in significant eCommerce changes with dramatic increases in online sales during the height of the pandemic. In April 2020, online sales in North America increased 129% year over year. The intensely competitive eCommerce environment has forced companies to adopt new strategies to grab market share and find their customer base.
The retail industry faced new challenges and opportunities. COVID-19 led the closing of many bricks and mortar stores as customers stayed home to avoid infection and malls were shuttered. However, online sales rose to record levels, and retailers expanded digital strategies to meet the online demand. Implementing consumer insights will be a major theme in upgrading customer experience in 2021.
Also, online retailers had to become more customer-centric. The pandemic supply problems directly caused shoppers to look beyond favorite brands and find products at a bargain sold by other retailers. Brand marketing has given way to product marketing as consumers increasingly focus on features rather than brand names.
Customers also expect personal attention and that businesses will market products that meet their needs. Their customer service standards are higher, and consumers reward companies that respond promptly to their queries and provide information on new products based on their preferences and shopping habits.
What To Expect in the Year 2021
Retail trends in 2021 will be characterized by advanced technology, specifically greater use of AI, robotics, virtual and augmented reality. These technologies will be used to create an interactive environment for shoppings and replicate the in-store experience online.
As the pandemic resolves, some online businesses will open stores or revolutionize the ones they already have with cashier-less checkout services or the opportunity to browse in person and buy online.
Immersive shopping experiences can re-create the process of trying on clothing or receiving suggestions on a matching accessory from a shop assistant. Customers can experience the products’ features through demonstrations that mimic reality and make the item come to life. Immersive augmented technologies can be like a “test drive” for a variety of products.
Another trend to watch out for in 2021 is buying products directly from the manufacturer through an influencer, directly on ads, or from television shows that can sell their merchandise. This is similar to the practice of dropshipping and eliminates the middleman from the transaction.
A continuation of data-driven marketing strategies and AI technology is expected in 2021. Chatbots can provide customer information that can be analyzed and transformed into actual data. This approach has already been popular for the past few years. Still, improvements in technology will allow it to evolve to new levels in which customer interactions are the raw material for data.
The Role of Customer Insights in Current Retail Trends
Amazon has been a leader in focusing on the customer. It was a pioneer in making recommendations based on past browsing and purchasing behavior and keeping tabs on customers to predict what they would purchase next.
Fortunately, even relatively small online or traditional businesses can adopt Amazon’s strategy since advanced tools can make customer data available to any marketer. Using CRM data, customer service chat, text from reviews, and other forms of data is the first step to producing actionable customer insights that will focus marketing strategies on what customers want.
A company can be misled by assumptions of what customers value without instructive consumer insights that demonstrate their priorities. For instance, a cleaning supply brand may assume that customers will focus on their product’s ability to remove stains as the most important feature.
Consumer insights based on reviews may indicate that customers care as much about fragrance and packaging as they do about its actual effectiveness. Much of actual consumer information is quite different from the assumptions marketers tend to make about what customers want.
What is a Relevant Customer Insight?
A survey may provide a significant amount of consumer information. However, it may not be relevant to their purchasing decisions. The duty of a marketer is to find out what consumers value before asking more specific questions.
This can be done by using various data sources that can provide a fuller picture of a customer’s priorities, preferences, and habits. It is also useful to pay careful attention to what customers themselves say in reviews and feedback. What they choose to discuss may signal their most important considerations when making purchases.
How to Use Insights to Drive Profitability
Consumer insights are an indication of what businesses should focus on next. If consumer insights indicate that fragrance and packaging are important for cleaning products, developing an easy-to-pour bottle or a new floral fragrance are strategies that are likely to increase sales.
Additionally, insights indicate where customers spend their time, whether it is on Facebook, eCommerce platforms, or review sites. This can provide clues for targeted advertising and strategic placement of promotions and ads where they are likely to get the most clicks and conversions.
Consumer Insights and Transforming eCommerce
Retail is becoming increasingly high-tech and customer-centric. Adapting new tools for automated data collection and personalized customer service can produce meaningful customer experiences and insights. These insights provide a roadmap for innovation and marketing and help companies communicate directly to the customer for increased sales and conversions.