Retail is in my DNA. I cut my teeth on big retail working as a buyer for Target. We'd spent lots of energy poring over data and reading behavioral science studies of how consumers react and what they rely on to make decisions. That’s when I had an aha moment for what would one day become Clientbook. There was an emerging space for the right software solution that helped Sales Associates be more personal.
This time of year is when I shut myself in a sound proof room for a week (ok, maybe just a few hours), subsist on nothing but coconut juice, burn sage, and read the tea leaves in the data. Forecasting what consumers will do in the upcoming year is a bit like predicting what cryptocurrency will do. But there are a few solid data points that define trends, you just have to know where to find them.
Here’s a few that I see emerging:
1. E-commerce will be more and more supported by the in-store experience.
The pandemic taught us that while we love the convenience of impulse shopping in our pajamas, we also love to be around people. Those two human needs will come together in hybrid form. So be ready to provide products, service, support and payments online, but also to demonstrate products in person. Whether the client comes into your store to try on a few items or finds their accessories virtually, they still love a Sales Advisor validating their selection.
2. Hyper-personalization will be the norm.
Never before in the history of retail have we seen so many customers who want it their way or no way at all. They want Sales Associates to know and remember them. They want stores to understand their styles and guide them in their choices. They want every step of the experience to feel like it was designed for them. The demands in this area will only increase and the retailers that are good at it will be the ones that thrive.
3. Cash registers or checkout lines will go away.
We saw Apple do this first in their stores with SalesAssociates closing sales on the floor with iPhones. It was a bit unnerving at first, as consumers didn’t trust the technology. Now they embrace it and expect it. Sending invoices and payment reminders manually and trying to collect is so 2021.
4. Virtual shopping at home will increase.
Speaking of trying things on, once a client has a personal relationship with a Sales Advisor, they will be able to see how products look by just standing in front of a screen. Suggestions will come from the Sales Advisor, and then product will arrive the same day or next day. And regular clients will be treated to exclusive, closed sales and rewarded for sharing with their friends.
These are just a few predictions of how retail could and will change. Some of this is already happening. Additional advancements will come by combining it all into easy-to-use processes and software that works across Point of Sale, Promotion, Payments, Social Media, and personal consumer devices---especially phones.