How Canadian retailers will serve impatient buyers in 2019


From extraordinary new technology to the level of personalization that has never been seen before, Canadian buyers can expect to see retailers pay more attention to customer convenience in 2019.

There are economic reasons for this. Retailing is a growing sector in Canada, and the struggle for the consumer dollar is only increasingly fierce.

Industry analysts say intense competition means large and small retailers alike have no choice but to keep finding new and innovative ways to attract customers and keep them coming. And with so much power pulling them in different directions to try and squeeze a few dollars from them, consumers realize the balance of power has shifted towards them.

"Customers are never satisfied," John Torella, a senior advisor with retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, told in a telephone interview.

"They don't have time. They don't have patience. They are confused by the hierarchy of change and selection factors – all the options out there. "

Torella sees the retail sector in the midst of a "comfort revolution," with customers looking for the entire shopping process as simple as possible. That means continuing to increase "click and collect" grocery shopping styles and similar programs.

Personal touch

Smart retailers will see the benefits of adjusting their shopping experience with each individual shopper, which means many people will spend 2019 to get to know their customers in a way they never had before. Large clothing chains, for example, might allow buyers to fill out questionnaires about their body and lifestyle before they appear in the store. When they arrive, they will meet with a salesperson who already knows what they might be interested in and which size is the most suitable.

Smaller retailers can offer more personal touch, Torella said – not only remembering the names and tastes of their customers but their families and what they might plan for the weekend.

Here too, technology can play a big role – and not only for the industrial heavyweight. Torella says small retailers are increasingly storing fixed customer databases and their preferences.

"I think it's really a strategy for success for small people: localization; adjust; personalization. Use your intimate information to really get that personal contact, "he said.

Larger players may not be able to match that level of intimate information, but having access to large-scale information about shopping habits comes with its own benefits.

Jennifer Marley, a partner at Sklar's retail marketing consultant, Wilton and Associates, cites Loblaw's loyalty program as a prime example of this trend. He said his company had heard far more positive feedback about PC Points than about similar competitors' offers – with buyers apparently uninterested in their grocery store information learning about them.

"To get personalization, you have to give access to something about you," he said in a telephone interview.

"Let them have access to your shopping data – customers see it as a worthy trade-off because they get meaningful discounts on the things they really want to buy."

Technology trends

Amazon is probably the best known name in online retailing, but a Chinese company is busy.

Already the undisputed ruler of e-commerce in his home country, Alibaba is ambitiously trying to spread his kingdom throughout the world. In 2017, he sold goods worth US $ 768 billion on various platforms.

This has helped turn Singles Day – an unofficial Chinese holiday that began as a protest against Valentine's Day – to become the biggest shopping day in the entire world this year.

This site already has a strong network of Canadian companies that sell everything from clothing to tractors to seafood. But the main focus is not to build a business in just one country. This is to create what Torella calls a "borderless society" where geographical barriers between companies and customers are less important than before.

"They say & # 39; Hey, we can give you exposure to grow the market, & # 39;" Torella said.

"You can't just think about it because they are Chinese companies – they are global companies, and they are available to anyone."

Marley sees blockchain and augmented reality as other technologies that can make a move to Canada's retail scene in 2019.

The blockchain allows products to be tracked at every step of the production process, meaning consumers can use their cellphones to find out where the pork comes from or where the ingredients of the wool sweater come from.

The beauty industry has become one of the first retail adopters of augmented reality, which allows buyers to scan their faces and see how they will be seen with the various types of makeup that is applied.

Marley said AR technology will continue to roll out next year, while similar innovations such as "smart mirrors" for clothing stores are likely to be several years away.

From predictions to reality

Health-conscious consumers have long been referred to as impending power in Canadian retail – but according to Marley, there is evidence to show that they have arrived at the scene and will make a bigger impact in 2019.

"Over the years, customers say they want it, but then they still buy Big Macs and French fries at McDonald's," he said.

"Now we see real changes in the way they eat and where they shop and what they buy for food."

This means that Canadians can expect retailers to refocus on health and wellness products in everything from food to household appliances.

Another long-awaited development in Canadian retailing is the arrival of "omnichannel" – a long keyword to describe the destruction of barriers between the online presence of retailers and their physical stores.

"Consumers see it as just one big system," Marley said.

For small retailers who might not have a bigger muscle marketing chain, that could mean using social media to build communities around shared interests. Some stores bring their online community into the offline world, with food stores offering cooking classes and bookshops organizing new book clubs specifically for people who interact with online stores.

"Even if you are a smaller retailer … You must have an online presence. You must have creative content. You need to have ideas about meal planning or planning a wardrobe or how to make a stack," Torella said.

"You have to invest as much as you can online, and then send it personally in the store."


Source link