In our annual look at what lies ahead for retailers, the Cestrian team considers consumer behaviour, personalisation and social media – as well as exciting new innovations that are changing the way people shop.
According to the Office of National Statistics, retail sales in 2015 showed a very encouraging pattern of growth, especially in quantity of purchases. With signs that 2016 is also developing into a great year for retail, we think businesses can compete with confidence and take advantage of the latest tactics to boost sales strategies.
Here’s our round-up of the five most vital trends for retailers over the coming year…
1) Websites and shops working in harmony
Online shopping is no longer considered a threat to the high street, as consumers are increasingly responsive to joined-up strategies between the two channels. Bricks-and-mortar stores are still valued for seeing products up-close, obtaining staff advice and convenient collection points, as shown by John Lewis’s highly successful Click-&-Collect service. Meanwhile, these preferences can be further complemented by online features like reviews, product comparisons and advance orders – which can also be accessed via mobile devices while actually in-store. The future is likely to see even more collaboration, with loyalty cards linked directly to apps, personalised systems and real-time stock updates.
2) Driving ecommerce via social media
People feel reassured by peer recommendations, so content shared via social media can have a huge influence on purchase decisions. To take advantage of this, brands need to understand how their target consumers interact with social media. How and why would they take each step towards an online purchase? Popular tactics include using social sharing buttons on product pages and avoiding a ‘hard sell’ approach by sharing user-generated content instead. Scandinavian furniture giant Ikea has enjoyed a great response after encouraging followers to share images of its products in their own homes.
3) More interaction in stores
Interactive displays are a fantastic way to engage consumers and demonstrate merchandise in an increasingly busy world of choices. In a multi-brand environment, a freestanding retail display unit (FSDU) can differentiate a product from its competitors and control the way that people perceive it, from first impression to more detailed examination. FSDUs can be created in a range of styles, shapes and colours, with the added option of integrated digital screens, audio features or even textures to suit the item being promoted.
4) Promoting value at point of sale
People shopping for groceries often take a habitual route around the supermarket – but saving money is never far from a consumer’s mind, so well-placed visual communications can have a major impact on their purchase choices. For example, someone might intend to buy a particular product, but printed retail signage can draw their attention towards a better deal for a very similar alternative – and also enhance its appeal by highlighting other benefits. Express supermarkets on high streets can use this approach to influence passers-by, advertising superior value on brands also sold by their competitors.
5) Easier payments
Android Pay is due to launch in the UK at the end of March 2016, following its US debut in September 2015. Like rival Apple Pay for iPhones, it works by allowing users to add their credit and debit card details to an Android mobile device fitted with a near-field communication (NFC) microchip. The phone can then be used at any checkout equipped with contactless payment technology, meaning faster and easier transactions. Samsung Pay is also expected to land in the UK in 2016, presenting a challenge for Android Pay, as Samsung is the top manufacturer of Android devices.
Cestrian specialises in delivering creative, integrated customer experiences for some of the UK’s biggest high-street brands. If you’d like advice about visual merchandising, display systems or installations, our experts are always happy to talk.