Sales and footfall. It’s impossible to get away from these two measures when it comes to the retail sector. And a casual glance around right now reveals some headlines that, whilst certainly being of concern, digging a little deeper reveals some silver linings.
There are a lot of negative headlines concerning growth in UK retail sales, with them slowing in March as fears over the rising cost of living lead to the sharpest drop in consumer confidence since the 2008 financial crisis, according to industry data.
Helen Dickinson, the chief executive of the BRC, make a good point as to the challenges we are currently facing:
“The rising cost of living and the ongoing war in Ukraine has shaken consumer confidence, with expectations of people’s personal finances over the next 12 months reaching depths not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.”
So with the Easter holidays here and rumours of an April heat wave, it’s not all doom and gloom.
1. Cashierless shopping
Pioneered by Amazon, which launched its first Amazon Go cashier-less store back in 2018 (and with more and more of them springing up in London), the model has proved successful, and it is now being rolled out by an increasing number of retailers.
2. Experiential retailing
It’s easy to talk about it but a whole lot harder to deliver, and experience is increasingly becoming an important differentiator for consumers when it comes to making decisions about where they shop.
For example, in bricks 'n' mortar stores, sales staff can be armed with hand-held terminals that give them information on customers' shopping habits and past purchases, allowing them to provide "personalised" shopping experiences much like they would receive online.
3. Autonomous delivery
The delivery part of a retail transaction is often the most expensive part of the customer journey, so it is understandable that many retailers are focusing efforts on developing autonomous delivery services.
We've all been waiting for what feels like an age for Amazon's long-promised drone delivery service (it’s doubtful we will see it arrive in 2022), and other brands have moved ahead of them in the race, such as Alphabet with their Wing drone delivery service.
4. Social and omnichannel commerce
What we mean is offering a "joined-up" experience. For example, a customer that places an order through a business’s website may want to check the status of their order via Facebook messenger and then pick it up in-store.
Brands will also put an increased emphasis on social selling. Looking to Asia and the example of the WeChat messaging app reveals what this may look like, as consumers there use the app for anything from talking to friends to making a doctor’s appointment or purchasing luxury brands.
5. Resilient and secure retail
With all that has transpired over the last two years, it isn’t surprising that talk of ‘resilience’ has become very prevalent across the sector. For example, there is a good chance we will see technology used to encourage and monitor social distancing, and also heat vision to monitor the temperature of people in crowds.
MUSIC FOR BROWSING, FOR BUYING, FOR SALES AND SPLURGES, FOR BAGS AND BASKETS AND BUY BUY MISS AMERICAN PIE.
So, with one of the key trends being experiential retailing, what is a great customer experience? For us at Startle, it is something customers tell friends about. It elevates a brand to distinction, with all sites harmonising in unison. Ultimately it improves your bottom line.
What do we mean exactly? For your own brand and business, picture interactive screens that empower customers to creatively engage with products and capture imaginations, whilst your atmosphere responsively adapts throughout the day based on your business needs minute to minute. Increase dwell, drive spend, nudge repeat custom…
It’s all possible with Startle.
Why not download for free (and with very little effort) our retail brochure?