Global PerspectivesAugust 25, 2020

SHIFT HAPPENS: Retailers Identify Today’s New Consumer

 

As part of our recurring #ShiftHappens series, we surveyed top retail executives and industry thought leaders to help identify the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has changed today’s retail consumer.

In this month’s release, we share findings from our Shift Happens: Aug 2020 survey as well as key insights from:

 

Sabrina Cherubini, VP Marketing, Customer Strategy at Ann Inc. 

Annemarie Dillard Jazic, VP of Online Experience & Marketing at Dillard’s 

Allie Egan, Founder/CEO of Veracity Selfcare; Former CEO of Cynthia Rowley

Alex Genov, Head of Consumer Research at Zappos

Courtney Hawkins, Retail Advisor; Former VP of Stores at Old Navy 

Miya Knights, Head of Industry Insight at Eagle Eye Solutions

Frederick Lecoq, Chief Marketing Officer of Golf Town

Christopher Melillo, SVP of Retail at Curaleaf 

Emily Pfeiffer, Senior Analyst, Commerce Technology at Forrester 

Phillip Raub, Founder of b8ta

Josh Shabtai, Sr. Director of Ecosystem at Lowe’s Innovation Labs

Barkha Saxena, Chief Data Officer of Poshmark

Christopher Silver,  Global VP of Brand Technology at MAC Cosmetics

 

 

 

In our Shift Happens: August 2020 Survey, we asked retail participants to identify which consumer trends were most likely to last post-pandemic. An astounding 94% of retailers revealed they are betting big on BOPIS and curbside pickup, and another 83% determined e-commerce sales growth would become a solidified consumer trend.

                               

Frederick Lecoq:

“The pandemic has reinforced the need for retailers to have robust online operations, particularly when it comes to  product availability, true and seamless omnichannel, and flexible fulfillment solutions.”

 

 

Emily Pfeiffer:

“Of all fulfillment options available, consumers say that curbside is the #1 option they hope to continue using. And it took a pandemic to make it happen.”

 

 

Christopher Melillo:

“The entire way we did retail was reinvented. We had to quickly roll out new technologies. We had to enhance our website, our bandwidth, and our ability to communicate with our customers at a distance.  We implemented curbside pickup, new delivery options, and solutions like handheld ATM machines to reduce physical interactions.”

 

 

 

 

 

For many retailers, investments in customer-facing technologies are increasing with rising e-commerce. When asked if investments in customer-facing technologies should take higher priority than marketing and advertising technologies, nearly half of our Shift Happens: August 2020 surveyed retailers agreed.

 

Alex Genov:

“We need investment in customer-centric technologies where the best interest of customers is balanced with a short term, quarter-to-quarter, focus on financials.  Customer centricity pays off in the longer term but is more sustainable and cheaper, again in the long run.”

 

 

Annemarie Dillard Jazic:

“I think both are equally important. The key is balance and thinking strategically. What technologies can you implement quickly that customers need now and what should you invest in that might sustain in the long term? You don’t want to invest in a customer-facing technology that will be irrelevant should the virus subside, but you do want to invest in technologies that will retain their demand in the longer term.

 

 Likewise, marketing and advertising technologies that can drive sales and optimize the return on ad spend are crucial right now and there is real opportunity to take advantage of a favorable landscape to grab market share,” Annemarie Dillard Jazic.

 

Josh Shabtai: 

“A big part of what we were seeing over the past few months is your average customer may not be as comfortable having someone they don’t know come to their home. With that in mind, we launched Lowe’s for Pros JobSIGHT, which is an augmented video chat tool that lets pros conduct remote home visits with a series of tools that almost makes it like they were there. So we are looking for opportunities to rethink and deliver on what customers truly need.”

 

 

 

 

Barkha Saxena:

“In the end, retail is about serving and delighting the customer. If retailers can improve on that, ROI from their investment in marketing/advertising will also see a boost.”  

 

 

 

Christopher Silver:

“For retailers, I think the most important thing is to determine how we can set ourselves up to be more personalized, more dynamic, and to use intelligence technology, not for creating a sale, but to create a better relationship with the consumer.” 

 

 

 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 5 consumers purchased a subscription box, according to survey findings reported by Forbes.  What’s more, the report found as many as 75% of DTC brands plan to have a subscription-based offering by 2023.

In our Shift Happens: August 2020 Survey,  we asked top retailers if their company had yet explored subscription-based offerings — 59% revealed they had.

 

Sabrina Cherubini:

“We launched our subscription-based program in 2019 and it has overpassed our projections. I am convinced that rental in apparel will become an amazing new way to engage with your favorite brand and bring the joy of shopping right into your house.”

 

 

Miya Knights:

“The rise of subscription loyalty demonstrates that points no longer mean prizes with traditional loyalty schemes. Consumers are looking for more relevance, value and utility from retailers they have an ongoing engagement with.”

 

 

 Traditional loyalty mechanics are being replaced by schemes that help retailers grow brand affinity with their customers. In turn, brands can leverage this affinity to drive increased transactional sales and/or frequency on top of the recurring revenue gains,” Miya Knights. 

 

Courtney Hawkins:

“Subscription services weren’t necessarily successful in traditional retailers. I could see apparel retailers trying this again but it would look different: meaning apparel retailers create partnership subscriptions that would offer a compliment to traditional product.” 

 

 

 

When asked to what extent is sustainability a current priority for their company, 55% of our Shift Happens: August 2020 Survey participants said sustainability is a “moderate” to “essential” focus within their retail company.

 

Allie Egan:

“Sustainability is table stakes. You must be doing something about it. How far you go and how you message it, is where the goals and values of the brand come in.”

 

 

 

Courtney Hawkins:

“Sustainability should be considered when thinking of the entire life cycle of the product. Retailers are starting to make changes in regards to shipping and how the product is made; albeit it should be faster. What we aren’t hearing much about is once the garment is purchased, what happens?

 

 

 Landfills are filling up with product and I think the next problem to be solved is for retailers to make it easier to recycle used goods. I could envision a loyalty program built around recycling end of life product,” Courtney Hawkins.

 

Phillip Raub:  

“Over the last five months, people have consumed less and realized that their happiness isn’t predicated on material possessions as much as it is hanging with family, missing friends, craving in-person dialogue with colleagues, and being around nature.  As a result, there is, and will continue to be, a large shift in consumer shopping behavior around spending less and consuming goods from companies that have genuine missions supporting sustainable causes.”