by Marketing Evolution

With 2020 upon us, consumer-facing industries are creating and implementing next-generation marketing strategies to improve customer experience this year. Already, customers are capable of making purchases at any time and place, giving them a considerable amount of control over their path to purchase. To stay relevant with these consumer-centric trends in retail, marketing teams are expected to engineer memorable customer experiences using advanced, data-driven marketing analytics.

Retail Trends Require Marketing Analytics Software 

Every facet of a retail organization should be leveraging advanced marketing analytics software to meet customer demands. From manufacturers optimizing their production, to sales staff understanding how to best communicate with customers, data will be central to an organization’s overarching customer-centric strategy.

Let’s take a closer look at four trends that we expect the retail industry to adopt over the course of 2020.

1. Eliminating Delayed Gratification

Today’s consumers want their demand fulfilled as quickly as possible. It wasn’t too long ago that online shoppers believed it was reasonable to wait weeks for their products to arrive. Now, about a decade later, consumers are beginning to expect free overnight shipping from online retailers. The gold standard going into 2020 will likely be Amazon Prime Air, which uses drones to deliver certain products to customers within 30 minutes or less.  

Retailers need to respond to this trend by creating processes that allow order fulfillment to be as agile as possible. This requires precisely forecasting your customer’s demand by tracking purchase cycles within your market, and stocking products accordingly.

However, retailers shouldn’t focus only on near-instant delivery – they should also streamline their in-store experiences. Retailers will continue to weave technology into their infrastructure, making mobile payment options more ubiquitous than ever. This can be accomplished by paying for your purchase through an app and picking up your order in-store, or by using near-field communication (NFC) technology to tap your phone against a sensor for faster payment. 

2. Simplified Experiences Through Personalization

Personalization has been a mainstay in retail innovation for most of the decade. However, the potential of personalization will reach new heights in 2020. Instead of using a customer’s data to send them targeted advertisements and promotions, retailers will use personalized insights to create simple, streamlined shopping processes. For today’s time-pressed consumers, this is a significant value-add.

Retailers should use information about a customer’s likes, needs, and values to provide the most relevant experiences to customers. So, if a customer visits your online storefront, they should view personalized recommendations that were derived from advanced data analytics. This information should be collected via sources like social media or IoT sensors. Then AI marketing and machine learning should be leveraged to create personalized recommendations based on the real-time needs of customers. This allows them to make simpler, instant decisions, leading to a better customer experience.

An example of this would be Peapod, a grocery delivery service. They recently implemented “Order Genius,” which creates personalized recommendations for online grocery shoppers. It creates a smart grocery list that can be fulfilled in moments by considering a customer’s past purchases and their purchase cycles. So, Order Genius will suggest that a shopper that previously ordered bread reorders it on a weekly basis, while recommending that the same customer only repurchases deodorant on a monthly basis. This personalized approach to grocery shopping makes the process simpler for customers, improving their experience. 

3. Socially Integrated Visualized Search

Have you ever seen a passerby with an outfit that you liked, and wondered where they bought it? Retailers are providing an answer to this situation by optimizing their product offerings for visual search. Visual search allows users to simply take a picture of the outfit – or download a photo of a similar outfit – and search for articles of clothing within the picture. Then, a search engine like Google will provide a list of matching items, giving users an easy path to purchase.

To prepare for the emergence of visual search, retailers should ensure they have a presence on image-based platforms like Instagram or Pinterest. For example, fashion brands should constantly provide new photographs that model their newest clothing. Then, customers can use an application like Google Lens to identify exactly what piece of the outfit they’d like to shop for from that photo.

As image search becomes more sophisticated, retailers can also use it alongside marketing AI to create product innovations. With this technology, customers could link their Instagram or Pinterest to their customer profile, allowing the retailer to analyze the photos within. From there, they could curate a list of recommended items that suit a shopper’s existing outfits or general sense of style.

4. Ubiquitous In-Store Technology and Analytics

Technology can benefit a shopper’s in-store experience, improving customer loyalty and a retailer’s bottom line. There are many different ways to use technology in-store – for example, using a retailer’s loyalty app to display the exact locations of products throughout a specific store. Or, beacon and NFC technology can be used to map a customer’s journey around the store, helping retailers position products or understand how long customers spend in-store.

Imagine a consumer that spent thirty minutes browsing a department store’s home goods section. Although they left without buying anything, they looked up product information using QR codes that were associated with the product, and had their path of travel picked up by in-store beacons. The retailer can then extrapolate insights through an advanced marketing analytics software to create targeted ads based on the products they considered purchasing.

With the right in-store technology, customers will enjoy a simplified in-store experience with many opportunities to educate themselves about product offerings. This will create a new role for sales staff, who can now focus solely on building customer relationships and learning the intricacies of your store’s products and services. With 79 percent of consumers claiming that it’s “important” or “very important” to engage with knowledgeable sales staff, this provides a competitive edge for retailers. 

Final Thoughts

2020 is shaping up to be another remarkable year for retailers that leverage cutting-edge marketing technology. Although a soundproof strategy is central to properly executing these retail trends, it’s important to ensure your organization has good data intelligence, high data quality, and a centralized location to store and analyze data. With the right tools, expertise, and processes, retailers can ensure they’re staying competitive in a constantly shifting marketing landscape.

Article originally appeared on Marketing Evolution.

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