A blog series on Shopper Marketing

By Cyndi Pyburn

When Amazon can sell almost anything, deliver it on the same day, and for less money than you can find it elsewhere, what is the role of the store? For Future Shop, Sears Canada, Jacob and hundreds of other dead or dying retailers this is a looming question. Access to easy search online across many retailers and branded goods has also increased the sophistication of consumers. Those who are price-sensitive can find the very best price. Those who are sophisticated can easily educate themselves on product features and search for the optimal product configuration.

Therefore, the Internet has upended nearly every industry, and certainly no category has undergone a more radical transformation than retail. Near-global access to the Internet and speedy adoption rates of smartphones have spawned countless changes to the way we shop and how retailers compete. In the coming years, there will be many more changes, but here are three big retail trends to watch for.  Trends for survival:

Build the consumer experience around something bigger than the product – a story

No one is predicting the complete demise of the physical store as retailers still offer value by the touch, smell, and feel of product. What’s changing is that retailers have begun to recognize the need for experiential events to lure customers.

Retailers have been telling the backstory on products for a long time, but smart retailers must start with the narrative and curate products, brand partners, content and experiences.  A shopping experience that is reinvented every few months can drive demand. A well-told story engages us as customers a little more deeply, and provides a rationale for brands that is far more than just about selling.

Create new opportunities to collaborate with brands.

Retail relationships have always been about power. Big retailers can dictate terms to product brands. Hot products can write their own ticket at the store level.  However, collaboration allows a great story to be told.  How can retailers elevate the brands they carry?  How can brands help retailers elevate the in-store experience?  Collaboration is critical for all to win.

Find new ways to create and measure value.

Sales per square foot is the respected retail measure but with showrooming taking away product sales, this measure today is ineffective. Time to think of a new measure:  experience per square foot. Brands can introduce new products, research customer behavior, and invite customers to events that get customers to see their brands a bit differently. Retailers can dedicate time and space for novel experiences that can’t be showroomed.

The best retailers have always delivered extraordinary experiences that you can’t find elsewhere. However, when we are just a search query away from finding me-too products cheaper and faster, retailers and brands that capture our imagination will be rewarded with survival.