It’s safe to say that 2019 was one of the most turbulent years in retail.
We had Chapter 11 filings for several big brands while many other retailers are hanging on by a thread as they head into 2020.
But it’s not all doom and gloom in the retail world as there are several success stories in the space (beyond Amazon, Target and Walmart). Brands like Wayfair, Duluth Trading, and Lululemon show there’s the opportunity to grow and prosper.
Here are three areas retailers need to focus on in 2020 that will lend itself to retailer growth and happy customer experiences.
1. Think About a Loyalty Revamp and Experiential Benefits
Last year appeared to be all about loyalty as countless retailers launched unique and valuable loyalty programs or made vast improvements to their current programs.
Brands like Target, CVS, and Lululemon all made a big splash in 2019 with loyalty, delivering consumer value and engagement that made an immediate impact. Competition for share of consumer wallet will continue to be a battle in 2020, so expect this trend to continue.
Fierce and countless competitors very likely mean you may not be able to offer consumers the lowest price or quickest/cheapest delivery, but what you can offer is the best and most unique experiences, interaction, and shopping rewards.
Sephora, Fleet Feet, Nike, and Lululemon have all done an amazing job in designing their loyalty programs and apps to set themselves apart and highly engage their customers.
For example, in addition to the typical spend-and-get rewards built within the loyalty program, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program is a place where consumers can join groups, follow topics, and share advice, product reviews, and beauty tips.
Within the program, consumers also receive personalized experiences, like makeovers and member-only events. These social and experiential components help drive the brand and the company’s growth.
2. Use AI and Leverage Customer Data to Provide Better Personalization
While service providers like Netflix and Spotify have led the way in this area, retailers should look at what others like Rent the Runway, Nordstrom, and Sephora have done successfully to leverage their learnings to customize and personalize their messages and offerings.
For example, not only does Rent the Runway utilize its data and customer preferences to make apparel recommendations, but it also uses that information to work with designers to produce apparel that members desire.
Sephora leveraged customer data and adjusted its reward offerings. Company officials customized the program to allow top members to choose from a list of the most desired benefits they will receive.
Also, members now have more birthday reward choices tailored to their interests.
3. Enhance Your Brick-and-Mortar Assets
More than 70% of consumers would prefer to shop a brick & mortar store versus online. Also, 90% of consumers are more likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable store associate.
Retailers with a store footprint in addition to their online presence can leverage for a better and more efficient customer experience.
Even the most successful online retailers see the merit and advantages of having a store footprint to engage customers in a more personalized experience.
Diverse retailers like Bonobos, Allbirds, Untuckit, Alex and Ani, Kendra Scott, and Warby Parker have all had significant focus on their brick-and-mortar growth to drive awareness, a personalized experience, and eventually increase sales.
Additionally, many traditional online only retailers are utilizing “co-shared” retail space to ease into brick and mortar.
Beauty brand Glossier has partnered up with Nordstrom to bring its products offline, as well as partnerships between Bluemercury and Macy’s, Sephora and J.C. Penney, Amazon and Kohl’s, and LeTote and Lord & Taylor.
How Retailers Can Win in 2020
Loyalty as an effective and impactful marketing strategy is something that must be aligned internally, prioritized, and optimized routinely.
I think 2020 is shaping up to be another interesting rollercoaster ride for retail.
I’m excited to see the steps retailers take to adapt to a constantly changing environment, stay ahead of their competition with the personalization shoppers are looking for, and deliver a unique and compelling experience.
Brands who put customers at the forefront and make personalized loyalty a high strategic priority, I believe, are the ones who will position themselves best to achieve their goals in 2020.
Would love to hear how your brand will incorporate these three areas of focus for 2020?