What do Sports Authority, hhgregg, Circuit City, and Tower Records all have in common? They’re all once-great American retailers that slid into irrelevance and, eventually, nonexistence. One could argue that these organizations lost the pulse of the consumer, failed to pivot to sustainable verticals, and met their demise as a result.
At Raydiant, we want to help as many retailers as possible avoid such a fate. This is one reason we’ve published our State of Consumer Behavior 2022 report, which we hope will provide a valuable perspective on prevailing consumer trends.
By surveying a substantial segment of consumers, we evoked several clear insights that all brick-and-mortar organizations should consider.
TREND 1: SHOPPERS ARE BARGAIN HUNTING
According to our survey, 24.8% of respondents are more likely to frequent stores that provide compelling in-store discounts. This was the leading response among consumers who were asked what would lead them to change from one brand to another.
It should come as no surprise that savings, or at least better value, top shoppers’ priority lists. Inflation has become a pressing concern among most shoppers, and bargain hunting has become more of a necessity than an option. Inflationary considerations aside, finding a good deal makes shoppers feel smart and makes them want to continue bargain hunting (at your store, ideally).
These findings suggest that offering strong deals within your stores is not just a reactionary response to mounting price pressures. Rather, it is a sustainable solution that adds intrigue each time a shopper journeys through your stores.
Macy’s, a brand that has struggled with recent store closures, is taking advantage of consumers’ thirst for a bargain. It has expanded its body of Backstage locations, which cater specifically to the value-conscious shopper.
In order to free up the margins to maintain ultra-competitive pricing on certain items, you might consider implementing more technology within your stores. This may allow you to trim labor costs and pass the savings to your shoppers.
TREND 2: RETAILERS ARE DELIVERING VALUE THROUGH IN-STORE EXPERIENCES
Once you’ve lowered prices as far as you can justify, how do you deliver ever-greater value to your customers? Many retailers are leveling up their in-store experiences, which provide intangible yet very real value to the customer.
In our survey, 21.7% of respondents said that “experiences aimed at generating fun” can compel them to visit a new store and make return visits. This was the second-leading motivation for consumers to leave a current brand for a new one. As a brick-and-mortar organization, providing standout in-store experiences could provide a windfall of new customers.
Clothing retailer Faherty Brand has taken this to heart. It hosts a series of concerts, intimate talks, retreats, dinners, and community-building events both inside its stores and in partner venues around the country. Known as Sun Sessions, these events, whether they are paid or complimentary, offer opportunities for customers to build stronger ties to the brand, specific stores, and employees.
TREND 3: CONVENIENCE SHOPPING REMAINS POPULAR
While many shoppers visit brick-and-mortar stores to have a great experience, we’ve found that many are still persuaded by convenience. For 23.8% of respondents, that convenience is the second-leading factor in their decision of where to shop—behind only the price of goods. According to the National Retail Federation, 83% of consumers have also stated that convenience is more important to shoppers today than it’s ever been.
Convenience doesn’t only mean offering buy online, pick up in-store options like curbside fulfillment. It also means that shoppers can come into your store, experience what they want to experience, and leave without enduring unnecessary hassles—like lines, confusing product layouts, or too few checkout options.
One hack that many retailers have embraced is self-service options. Where possible, give your customers the option to do it themselves. Whether this means posting product details on an interactive display, providing ample self-checkout kiosks, or implementing other DIY options, you’ll cater to customers’ stated desire for convenience.
TREND 4: RETAILERS ARE DELIVERING SAVINGS THROUGH IN-STORE TECHNOLOGY
In-store technology isn’t just a means to greater convenience. It can also save your organization money, which you may then allocate toward more competitive pricing for value-needy customers.
In-store signs, kiosk screens, and other dynamic displays can be a cost-effective form of advertising for your brand. Effective apps also allow you to reach the customer at any time in any location, expanding the reach of your physical store for a reasonable investment.
Technology can directly help your shoppers save money, and the majority of consumers today are willing to use retail-specific AI technology that helps them save money—through intelligent product curation, direction to discounts, and other means.
Because we know through our report that competitive prices are a leading criteria for consumers today, retailers are increasingly turning to tech to deliver savings to their shoppers.
TREND 5: CONSUMERS CONTINUE TO TALK
It’s not that brick-and-mortar shoppers are a particularly gossipy bunch. They’re simply human beings living in an age where social complaining is as easy as 280 characters (or less) and a click. This is the cost of doing business in the 21st century.
In our survey, 83% of respondents said that they’re likely to tell others about a poor in-store experience. Depending on the shopper, “others” could be a couple of friends—or it could be a Twitter following of hundreds of thousands of people. With an understanding of what shoppers today demand, you should also weigh the exponential harm that can result from one poor customer experience.
No two customers are exactly alike. As a brick-and-mortar organization, your edict is to understand what the greatest number of shoppers want the most. While you can’t please everyone, you should absolutely work to please the majority of consumers—then do what you can to please the rest.
Based on our findings, offering great value (through both prices and in-store experiences), prioritizing convenience and using technology to do so are surefire ways to please the vast majority of American consumers.
CEO of Raydiant, a digital signage and in-store experience solutions provider.