With the holidays upon us, it’s time to look forward. What should fashion, lifestyle and beauty brands be strategizing about in the New Year?
Several of Corra’s top experts weighed in on what 2016 will hold for omnichannel merchants. Take a look at the trends they predict will be top-of-mind for retailers next year.
We are going to see a growth in innovative in-store customer experiences. Some big names in fashion are already doing this. Rebecca Minkoff offers interactive fitting rooms with touchscreen mirrors that allow shoppers to adjust the lighting, request sizes, and add items to the checkout process. Ralph Lauren also unveiled RFID-enabled fitting rooms in their flagship store that can identify the garments brought into the room via RFID tag. These technologies can offer a cool experience for shoppers, but having a centralized inventory is key for any omnichannel initiative. This will be a big first step for many retailers in 2016.
More unified customer experiences across devices, in particular for fashion merchants. No matter where, when or how a customer engages with a brand, the experience should be completely unified. People like to us the word “seamless” to describe how these historically disparate types of experiences should play out. I prefer “unified,” that is, no matter the device or the channel or the setting, the customer experience should feel that it has all come from the same, unified brand-brain.
So what might a unified customer experience look like? Perhaps an online shopper receives a suggestion to download an app to get loyalty points, and within the app they’re able to set style preferences and create a profile. Now when that customer arrives at the store, the sales associate has the opportunity to upsell knowing what the shopper is interested in. And later, the customer can log back into the app to use their loyalty points and further engage with the brand.
The online experience dovetails into the store experience, and vice versa. The app provides value to the customer as well as the retailer; data gathered from the interactions instore are used to help personalize the online experience. All the touchpoints work together to create a truly unified experience that builds brand loyalty. This is the direction merchants should be heading next year.
In the last few years, Internet speeds have been increasing at a quiet but steady pace. Quicker download rates at lower costs (think Google Fiber), more powerful cell phones (think the pity you have for friends still on 3G), and faster wifi (that somehow can’t make it to airports) have all been trending up despite the general frustration people seem to have with Internet speed. In 2016, best in class sites are going to be required not only to provide for graceful degradation for those on slower networks, but also to produce top quality sites that work for zippy download speeds as well. Through the widespread use of CDNs and more efficiently performing systems like Magento 2.0, giant product images, “view all” links on listing pages, and gorgeous embedded video will go from being luxuries to absolute requirements in customers’ eyes – especially in the fashion, luxury, and lifestyle markets.
Senior Business Analyst
In terms of the online experience, I think we’ll see more brands integrating content on product listing pages. It’s another way for a brand to tell their story. Coach and Kate Spade are some examples of fashion brands that already do this, and so is our client Loeffler Randall. Loeffler referred to this as “surprising” the customer with fun editorial content – each page is a little different. Integrating that narrative content, or even leveraging social media, makes PLPs way more interesting. Everyone is tired of out-of-the-box product grids!
Director of Strategic Alliances
While many online retailers have been thinking about their global roadmap for years, the execution has often been fragmented, resulting in frustrating operational practices. Retailers are starting to ask how they can make this easier. How can the backend systems match across countries and continents? How can they use one logistics company globally instead of one for each country? Who can help process payments around the world? Several technology partners have stepped up and created true global solutions, giving merchants one partner for one function. In the coming year, international brands will adopt these strategies to create a more efficient ecommerce experience for both their customers and internal operations.
Sr. Director, Retail Strategy & Creative Services
In 2016, merchants are going to get a lot better at personalization. Even now, many retailers are looking at what customers like and are interested in to personalize their experience. Outside of that, we can look at where they’re shopping from, and customize based on location and weather. For example, if someone is shopping in New York and we know it’s raining there, we can recommend raincoats to that customer. Or a user visiting the site from Miami could be shown a different featured dress style than a user from Boston. If it’s snowing in Boston, maybe we display sweaters or coats instead. It comes down to being smart about who the shopper is and being able to suggest what they really want.
Director of Marketing
Personalization is also going to be a key factor in marketing channels, from display and text, to social media and email. If a user clicks on an email, the landing page should show something relevant to that message. Once shoppers are on your site and you learn something about them, send them personalized emails about the products or categories they’re interested in. Don’t expect to send the same promotion to everyone and get good results. Although some customers may have the same shopping tendencies, individuals are looking for different things. Reflect that in your marketing channels with personalized messages. Sites that do this are increasing their average order value, so it’s time to get on board!
Since Apple launched iBeacon in 2013, beacon technology has been seen as one of the best ways for a retailer to bring personalization into a store. While the technology has not been adopted as fast as expected, large retailers have invested and seen returns from using beacons in stores. This technology is already communicating discounts, recommendations and rewards to shoppers’ phones while they’re in the store, like the “Walk In and Win” contest Macy’s rolled out for this year’s Black Friday promotion.
Implementation of beacon technology will continue to grow in 2016. Soon we’ll have more case studies rather than speculation on whether beacons can be successful for large and small retailers. While beacons allow for location based ads and promotions, the true value is in the ability to help customers locate items in the store, signal a store associate for assistance, even to reserve items to try on or earn rewards. Over the next year, I believe we’ll see beacons shift from a way to increase sales to a tool primarily used to improve customer service and provide personalized in-store experiences.
Would you like to learn more about innovative in-store experiences, or meet with one of our experts? Make an appointment with Cali Shadonix by emailing email@example.com.
Corra is a New York, Los Angeles and London based digital commerce agency creating unified commerce experiences for fashion, lifestyle and beauty. With a team of 100+ ecommerce strategy, design and technology professionals, Corra delivers rich shopping and buying experiences across all channels and devices. Corra is trusted by retailers of all sizes to implement and support the Magento Enterprise, Demandware and hybris platforms.