The roar of consumer demand is loud and clear. Impatience and urgency amid the pandemic of redefining retail in 2021 and the push for direct-to-consumer options that go beyond the middleman, paired with “Where’s My Stuff?” Mindset, pressured retailers to up their game and innovate.
While Jean-Paul Agon, CEO and CEO of L’Oréal, made waves a year ago with his post-COVID predictions that there would be a massive rebound in the 1920s, that prediction was based on a rebound of relief by repressed consumers, rather than steadfastness. Market share gains and a shopping shift that drove record numbers of customers to adopt a digital-first mindset.
As it turns out, the “roar” that retailers now hear is that consumers demand a better experience where the gap between the time an online order is placed and the time someone holds hands is minimal.
On that note, this year is perhaps remembered as a time when speed was the key factor distinguishing a retailer in an online-heavy, delivery-conscious world, and removing barriers to consumer access and accessibility remained a top priority amid supply chain problems, and door-to-door delivery Attracted consumers who do not expect less.
As the year ends, the team here at PYMNTS is considering two emerging trends for several trends that may continue to gain significant traction in the coming year and beyond.
Consumers ‘bring it to me now’ mentality makes retailers want to be faster
The transition to digital involves a race among retailers to see who can create the most seamless consumer experience, whether that’s by delivery, roadside pickup, in-store pickup, and beyond. Meanwhile, retailers are grappling with inventory issues, cost issues and shipping logistics amid a pandemic that brings a slew of critical and urgent challenges.
“There is no shortage of stories about supply chain delays and their impact on retailers, but shoppers have grown to expect to receive their purchases quickly regardless,” Onfleet CEO Khaled Naim told PYMNTS. “The new players in express trade emerging from the pandemic have reinforced how important it is for retailers to have a long-term delivery strategy that takes consumer expectations into account, or [they’re] risking market share to competitors.”
Opportunities abound, and they are leveraging data to relieve pain points. As reported by PYMNTS, a combination of the best in technology and the most advanced analytics is a viable solution to ensure merchandise arrives faster than ever before in an Amazon-led world.
Focusing on the “last mile” – moving the product from the warehouse to the consumer’s door – is critical. Amazon, for example, is skilled at this and does most of the shipping analytics work (such as where the product is versus where the consumer is located and what is the best shipping route) before placing the item. Snow storm or hurricane may increase shipping delays? All of this is taken into account in the Analytics equation by Amazon.
Zohar Gilad, CEO of Fast Simon, said, “What is unique now, given the business/business dynamics and the decreasing tenure of [retail] Staff, is how quickly retailers can get people to see systems and implement technology — before someone leaves.”
We hope this behind-the-scenes approach to retail will drive the industry forward and satisfy and delight consumers along the way. Knowing what the shipping looks like before making a sale will ease consumer anxiety about where their packages are.
That feeling when a parcel arrives unexpectedly a day or two earlier than it was planned? Priceless.
Direct-to-consumer subscription services with unique experiences attract consumers
It’s the era of retail subscription service. It is a means where consumers get more for their money and thus feel affinity towards those unique brands that offer unique experiences.
Venture capital firms invest huge amounts of money in consumer-oriented companies and Amazon’s primary sellers as well.
Take chocolate, for example. Last spring, Hershey offered a direct-to-consumer purchase of a 2.5-pound box of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for $29.99. Also among the recent direct-to-consumer payment is the Coke subscription service which allows consumers to try new Coke drinks (and swag) for a monthly subscription of $45.
Such choices engage the consumer mentally and emotionally. It may seem like a consumer luxury to have sweets and sugars in bulk compared to the typical grocery or convenience store versions. For a soda addict to try new flavors, it’s likely to be an exciting rush, and the anticipation of new flavors each month keeps the person interested.
In this way, perhaps the ultimate key to a high-quality subscription service is to provide an experience that consumers will justify spending money on. “The D2C test is always: Can you deliver a value proposition that truly resonates with the consumer? Because that’s when you get the iterations. That’s when you get the sustainability pitch,” said Gibbow Thomas, former head of global e-commerce for PepsiCo.
When a subscription service also offers consumers a slice of company culture, that’s when the real magic happens.
This “culture” is something that brands redefine on a coin and sometimes associates more with consumer needs than what the consumer wants. Some companies – Chewy being a good example – pivoted quickly when pet supply delivery services faced delays due to global supply chain issues. Chewy offers consumers things like pet food in bulk delivered to your doorstep. Chewy asked what consumers needed during this time in terms of what his customers had in common—furry friends and cuddly companions of pets.
So, Chewy began offering consumers pet insurance, telehealth options, and help filling prescriptions. Chewy chose these segments to delve into because, for Chewy, they were hot markets to reach their desired and desired customer base in the pandemic and beyond.
“We see this as a great opportunity… to increase customer engagement and brand loyalty and to have more interest in healthcare purchases both on and through our platform,” said Sumit Singh, CEO of Chewy.
Like the 1920s, the 1920s also abounds with the sound of consumer demand. The products sold are important, as is the actual buying process, such as the ordering and shipping process from the consumer’s perspective. Also crucial to the consumer experience is how a brand can create new relationships with the consumer by changing expectations of what the brand should be.
The roar of higher expectations and unique experiences will not be silenced, nor should they be. But listening to that roar and evaluating how the call is answered will be the key to continued success in retail.