Amazingly the American wheels of commerce continue to turn despite health scares and community unrest! International innovation has developed the ability to energize sales and maintain safe practices. Retailers have created systems and consumers have evolved technology so that both sides of sales tractions more efficiently have their needs met! Oberlo, a leading retail industry analyst, projects international retail to grow 4.5% over the next couple of years! How does that happen?
Large retailers have changed practices to more effectively sell products; driven by buying preferences that shifted toward boutique and virtual retail. More knowledgeable customers know what they like and return policies are more convenient. An important driver to retail progress exists with social and commercial pivots enabling sellers and buyers to communicate effectively before, during, and after purchasing. Retailers compete by being flexible in managing customer service demands. Meanwhile customers buy aggressively because of the service safety net. So, what changes drove this behavioral shift on both sides of the cash register?
Surprise! Technology has made sales more efficient! Notice how consumers even in their teen years now evaluate purchases in real-time while walking through a store. A consumer with an iPhone strolls through Macy’s communicating through the internet and learns that her next pair of Wonder Woman Vans are three miles away for four dollars less; plus a coupon is included with an additional purchase. Always accessible information drives better price offerings, as well as a sense of retail adventure that previous generations could not fathom.
Of course, the product matters. The price matters. Certainly the story matters, too. Very little says “power shopper” quite like a wirelessly connected young professional with cooler apps and better deals via the web. Of course, the technology directs the soon-to-be-purchaser, toward submitting a rating, plus comments about the buying experience. Now the next customer knows exactly where the updated coolness threshold exists. The ability to communicate with other customers and retailers creates unprecedented buyers’ strength. Through assorted forums and instant discounts, a savvy retailer has all the necessary information to sell competitively and stylishly. All it took was an electronic dialogue between retail options and determined shoppers.
To be clear, the emotion that drives retail has existed at least for the last century. However, today’s hyper-connected world, with too many choices and even more competition for consumers’ time and attention, creates elevated stress when buying the old way. Consequently, customers now pay more attention to brands and what they communicate. Listening to the marketplace has come a long way from buying whatever was advertised on a favorite radio station or sitcom. Sellers are much more pointed. Now the dialogue means listening to how favorite brands are portrayed in media outlets ranging from movies to web-based personalities. The latest internet sensation, podcaster, and blogger disseminate multi-media stories concerning current fashion. Now young consumers select a media personality, steal their look, and represent them until the audience ignores their message. Listening now represents every multi- sensory channel where influencers communicate with followers.
As a result of increasing communication channels, marketing messages are rapidly expanding among retailers in quantity and by type. Who has not epically failed walking or driving past a Krispy Kreme outlet despite the best intentions? What clearly matters is the inner dialogue that the retailer has imposed! Everyone knows that warm, sugary goodness is on the other side of the red light! Clearly, retailers who win are best at creating communication among customers and sellers. Regardless what sense is targeted, it is external stimuli and human socialization processes that accelerate retail momentum. The ability to interact emotionally with the desired good, then with any combination of prospects’ five senses, manifest successful sales. Include the ability to share information and experiences with live people, or through social media, then validation is done. The story has been told! The sale is ready to be transacted.
Ultimately interaction creates value. Circulating art, publishing literature, delivering music into the marketplace is how the masses now learn to appreciate artistic superiority across the senses. Of course constantly evolving fashion and gadgets helps, too. Merchandise and sensory images must be available for style and creativity to circulate. “Create value” has to resonate emotionally! Consequently, creating value keeps creativity and its creator alive! The entire retail system demands stories that grab the senses, emotions and mind! Then, popular products monetize the most dominant emotions to reward overstimulated senses! Then retailers will extend thanks, and ultimately receive their financial rewards!
By Glenn W Hunter
Managing Director, Hunter and Beyond, LLC