Happy New Year! As we look to the year ahead, here are some 2018 New Year’s Resolutions you need to make for your retail business. Just repeat after us:
I WILL MAKE SHOPPING A FUN EXPERIENCE
Attempting to beat online behemoths on price is a losing race to the bottom. Better to embrace the experiential component of brick-and-mortar shopping, as it’s the one advantage retailers have over you-know-who. Already had success with Sip’n’Shop nights? Why not try a Sip, Shop and SING karaoke happy hour like Lynn/Louisa did? Nothing fosters a fun sense of community like cocktail and karaoke…besides, people need that perfect outfit before taking the stage, no?
I WILL TELL STORIES WITH MY MERCHANDISE
OK, so maybe your name isn’t Story, but you should be a storyteller nonetheless. Consumers want items that tell stories, either literally with hangtags, packaging or signage, or collaboratively through a larger message. While you don’t necessarily have to be like STORY, a Manhattan boutique that changes up its entire merchandise mix every 6 to 8 weeks, often with exclusives, you can learn a lot from how they keep thing fun and fresh.
I WILL STEP UP MY INSTAGRAM GAME
With 71% of US Businesses using Instagram, it’s imperative that you stand out. But Instagram doesn’t only have to be pushed out by your own company. Slyly encourage your customers to do the marketing for you directly from the store. Put your store name as a hashtag on dressing room mirrors, or set up “selfie spots.”
Also, keep these Instagram stats in mind while planning your 2018 strategy:
The following Instagram stats could prove extremely valuable when planning your Instagram strategy for 2018. According to Social Media Today, 70% of hashtags on Instagram are branded; Instagram expects to accrue $4 billion in mobile ad revenue in 2017, so make sure you test out advertising on this platform; posts with a location get 79% more engagement; 70% of Instagram posts don’t get seen at all, so use a consistent schedule, tagging and locations to get noticed; Instagram photos generate 36% more engagement than videos (ever notice that your videos get views but few comments or likes?); 65% of top-performing Instagram Instagram posts feature products, and while you don’t want to just push product, it does help to show what you have and what it does. That said, photos with faces get 38% more likes, so don’t just go for the flat lay; user-generated content has a 4.5% higher conversion rate.
I WILL DIVE INTO A.I.
If Alexa and Siri are your BFFs, then you’re already well-versed in artificial intelligence. Retailers who sell online can adapt AI on the front end in the form of chatbots to assist online shoppers with search and purchasing, without hiring additional salespeople. On the back end, AI can help retailers internally manage their businesses. While still a bit Brave New World, AI will become more seamless over time…and less daunting.
“AI is already present in every device that we use on a daily basis, including Netflix or LG refrigerators. AI in eCommerce is maturing, and will quickly dominate many areas of online shopping,” says Rob Hayes, Business Development Director of eComchain, who spent 30+ years in the retail industry having worked for Marshall Fields, Lands’ End and JC Penney before joining eComchain early this year. “Every merchant using eComchain can avail of these cool AI features within their next fiscal quarter to increase their sales revenue.”
Headliner Labs, a chatbot company with many fashion applications, cites that its 1:1 messaging results in: 75% increase in average order value; 4x greater conversion than email; and 3x more repeat customers. The chatbots text consumers in a very friendly way, emojis and all, to simulate a real “conversation” with a salesperson.
I WILL DECODE MY DATA
Data is only as good as data does. If you can’t analyze it, understand it, and apply it properly, you can’t make it work for you. Mike Grimes, president of Ecrebo for North America, weighs in on how Macy’s and other retailers can apply data for more personalized promotions:
“Macy’s new loyalty program, based on how much shoppers spend at the store, is clearly designed to build stronger relationships with its existing customers; a good strategy. But, while offering incentives like free shipping and earned points on every purchase that are based on its core customers’ yearly spending, Macy’s should consider shoring up the targeting and personalization side of its loyalty program. After all, we know that customers prefer a customized experience. Macy’s knows that providing ‘VIP’ offers to customers will likely encourage them to spend more, but complementing this strategy with effective, targeted communications will help improve engagement and generate long-term loyalty.”
I WILL LEARN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MILLENNIALS AND GEN Z
Yes they’re both hip and obsessed with technology, but these two important demographic groups should not be lumped together. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Generation Z (the post-Millennial generation) makes up 25% of the population. There are 8 main differences between Generation Z and the Millennials who came before, according to Inc.
1. Realistic vs Optimistic: 70% of Generation Z expect to work harder than previous generations; 2. Independent vs Collaborative: 71% of Generation Z said they believe the phrase “if you want it done right, then do it yourself.” 3. Digital Natives vs Digital Pioneers: 40% of Gen Z said that working Wi-Fi was more important to them than working bathrooms; 4. Private vs Public: 70% of Gen Z would rather share personal information with their pet than with their boss. Not surprisingly, Gen Z has embraced Snapchat, where images and videos don’t live indefinitely; 5. Face-to-Face vs Digital-Only: 74% of Gen Z prefers to communicate face-to-face with colleagues; 6. On-Demand Learning vs Formally Educated: Having watched Millennials drown under student debt and career frustration, Generation Z explores education alternative. Think on-demand learning solutions, how-to YouTube tutorials, or employers that offer on-the-job and development training.
Consumers are now shopping by lifestyle instead of category, and fashion retailers should think beyond apparel and accessories. Take a cue from the growing trend for beauty (Forever21 just opened up Riley Rose, a freestanding beauty concept chain), and think of adding cosmetics, fragrance, home or gift to your mix. WWDMAGIC is launching GLAM, a new beauty section this February. And think outside the box. Try adding unisex accessories, or men’s jewelry, or pet items. Explore niches and see what happens.