Where our society is headed over the next few years in the world of brick and mortar retail and the world of eCommerce sales will be intertwined like an elegant waltz with its graceful and constant, wide-sweeping turns each in tune with the other, circling yet inexplicably drawn together.
One of the hardest things to do in retail sales is foresee the future and predict where the market is going and what your customers will want as time moves on. But in this case we can actually do that. We can look into the future, armed with information from current trends and some pretty influential kids, and predict exactly how our consumers will behave moving into the future.
Millennials have been the talk of the town when it comes to retail and eCommerce sales and as such most businesses have put all of their focus on Millennials’ buying habits but it’s time to look forward and take some cues from the next generation to set to impact society.
Millennials are impatient, want instant gratification, and have a lot of expectations for their products. They are savvy shoppers. Their goal is to find exactly what they want, order it from whatever device they are on and wherever they are and have it in their hands almost immediately. They will not tolerate a clunky website that is not mobile friendly. They won’t tolerate sub par images and descriptions on the products they are looking into. They won’t give a site like this the time of day. And frankly neither would anybody these days. Because of this eCommerce must constantly evolve as consumers expect retailers to keep up with their demands but that doesn’t mean that brick and mortar has been left in the dust.
Should current retail shops focus attention on eCommerce sites? Absolutely.
Studies have continually shown that the next generation to become the main drivers of market, Gen Z -who are 72 million strong by the way, are significantly more attached to visiting an actual physical store than their predecessors are. It’s time to stand up and pay attention because Gen Z will prove to be an influential generation. Being born between the years of 1994 and 2002, the oldest of the Gen Zers are just now in their early 20’s, leaving college and entering the workforce. However, within just a couple of years Gen Z will make up 40% of the consumer population with money to burn. With this in mind we can take note of these trends, look into the future and plan your forward growth accordingly.
But don’t give up entirely just yet on eCommerce. With the confluence of both Millennials and Gen Z in the consumer marketplace it is important to make sure that your marketing strategies reflect both. Studies have shown that this new generation likes to shop online and on their mobile devices. They like to locate products and learn about products online, but ultimately, unlike Millennials, go into the store in order to actually purchase the product. They are comfortable using a combination of modalities to get what they want.
The future will usher in a new era of customer engagement for brick and mortar and eCommerce alike.
This up and coming generation puts a lot of importance on experience. Because of this Gen Z will be the driving force for brick and mortar sales in the future. They want to be able to engage with brands in an organic way and tend to expect quite a bit from them. They are also incredibly comfortable with the digital world and expect to be able to engage in a digital world with their preferred brands. It means as the merchant you not only need to consider how they are shopping for your products online but how they see it in store. They expect to see unique merchandise and will be looking for displays that don’t just show products, but show the products in use as well as ways they themselves can try out these products. Along with Millennials, who almost entirely shop online, Gen Z consumers focus will be on such things as mobile optimization, detailed product information and photos, free shipping and free return shipping for online shopping as well as the ability to go to the brick and mortar and find the exact same experience and more.
The difference between Gen Z and Millennials is that the former are more aware of their relationship with digital devices and just how much their digital use affects their lives. They believe they should limit use and actually make an effort to put it down and tune out of the online world and spend time in the real world.
The point here is that companies that want to be successful now and into the future need to be able to capitalize on both of these digital generations.
Keep your brick and mortar store putting focus on the shopping experience to gain brand loyalty, but also build (if you don’t already have one), upgrade and completely revamp your online presence to create a frictionless shopping experience and satisfy the lust for speed and efficiency.
Having a store front and an online store and managing them both in real time to ensure your consumers a sleek cross channel experience can be challenging.
Because the store is ultimately an extension of the brand, consumers feel that it is also an extension of the online experience the customer already had before walking in the door. That means as a retailer you must make sure that the experience is fluid. The goal is to create a hyper-personalized physical shopping experience through conceptualizing stores that create a digitally connected, interactive shopping experience. One way to create a cohesive experience is to make sure you are managing both online and in-store inventory.
Imagine being able to manage your inventory online and in store, in real time, with one cohesive system. Imagine having one central catalog where the products are able to sync in real time across all channels. With a POS system where you can instantly add to or update your inventory effortlessly with a bar code scanner. You would have complete control over inventory levels, in real time.
With a cross platform POS helping you to manage inventory for both your store front and your online site you will be able to effortlessly add products to sales, receive low stock alerts, and easily manage pricing- including discounts and markups. These digitally savvy consumers expect to be privy to discounts, special offers and promotional campaigns too. Creating a cohesive cross-channel experience between online experience and in store experience gives them everything they want. Online customers would be able to have a better idea of what products are in stock in store or just online. With real time inventory an item that they are looking at online could be updated to “sold out in store” as soon as the last one is purchased. Not only would you know when a certain item is in low stock but so will your customers.
Both generations are looking for an experience, a cohesive experience that is by and large frictionless. They want a shopping experience where as a consumer they can shop for a product online, see if there is a promotion or discount then show up in store to look at the item and receive the same promotion or discount in store that they found online. And this is what the new generation of consumers wants: All of the pertinent information they need to make a decision… right now.
Understanding human behavior can help you create a progressive marketing strategy.
As a retailer the one thing that will give you a leg up will be understanding human behavior, which fortunately we have all the information we need on this topic, and take steps to apply what you learn to your business strategy. If you are interested in how you can better manage your eCommerce site in conjunction with your brick and mortar store, or are considering expanding your brick and mortar store into the eCommerce world let Bankcard Brokers help you with our cutting edge solutions for retail merchants.
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