Consumer trends ecommerce and retail

The world of e-commerce and OMNI channel are continuing to advance at a dizzying speed where, the interaction between consumer and retailer must evolve to meet continuously complex demands. While consumer trends are constantly changing, retailers have always been dedicated to achieving a seamless customer experience. In the past, this has taken the form of employee customer service training, improving category management or changing store planograms.

In the first blog in this retail series, we acknowledge that in recent years, retailers have had to step it up to meet increasing consumer demands by implementing more sophisticated innovations such as in-store augmented reality, mobile apps, customer kiosks, and self-checkout.

In order to do this, they must understand the wants, needs and desires of the modern consumer as well as how they interact with retail brands across multiple channels.

1. Consumers are the channel

Consumers are not exclusively shopping online or in-store and the distinction between the two is disappearing. There is only one channel now, and it is whichever meets their needs first and most effectively. Consumers are making it clear that they want to be the focus of retailers, no matter where they are choosing to shop. They expect to buy anywhere, get delivery anywhere and make returns anywhere and to have the same experience whether online (mobile or desktop) or in-store. The most successful retailers and manufacturers will be at the intersection of the physical and virtual worlds, leveraging technology to satisfy shoppers however, wherever and whenever they want to shop.

To achieve this, many retailers are rolling out innovative technologies that add value to the in-store shopping experience. This puts the customer at the centre of the business strategy, requiring the technological infrastructure to be able to serve the customer seamlessly across every touchpoint. From promotions sent wirelessly to nearby shoppers’ smartphones, to augmented-reality apps that let people visualize how furniture will look in their home, these new tools make shopping in physical stores more interactive and fun. Retailers need to break down barriers between channels and make the shopping experience seamless.

2. Millennials and Gen Z are the new generation of consumers, but they are not the only consumers

This generation has grown up with digital media and technology. These consumers have an unprecedented enthusiasm for and comfort with technology, and online shopping is a deeply ingrained behavior. They have grown up with the expectation that technology and the internet are readily available at their fingertips. This constant connection means that they have access to around the clock shopping, and retailers must break through the noise of marketing material and new products to make an impact on consumers.  It is critical that retailers and manufacturers understand how these consumers are using technology and include digital touch points along the entire path to purchase.

However, when we’re thinking through store experience and technology integration, retailers must also keep in mind that what appeals to Millennials might not appeal to Gen X. Similarly, what works for upper Millennial consumers might not appeal to younger Millennials. Retailers need to adapt their offerings according to who they are targeting.

3. Consumers Still Crave Human Interaction

In our increasingly digital world, it is more and more common for people to seek opportunities to spend quality time with other people—and that’s a critical role physical retail serves today more than ever. While many may have thought that Amazon drones and augmented reality closets were the end to physical retail, this will not be the case. E-commerce can’t offer a personalized approach, which is why the physical store needs to adapt alongside the online store.

The most important thing to note, is that regardless of format, price, and quality, retailers, whether online or in-store still need to be functional to capture consumer’s attention quickly.  Convenience and selection remain key drivers of store choice for consumers. Retailers need to show shoppers how they’re delivering these values in every interaction, no matter where it occurs.

TPG’s experienced team tackles ongoing retail consulting projects with various big-name retailers and grocers in North America. Let us help your organization transform your processes to embrace the the ever evolving consumer trends.