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Three Retail and Consumer Goods Trends You Need to Be Across

At the latest Retail and Consumer Goods Summit, we discussed how brands can stay ahead of the curve. Here are three tangible takeaways you can apply to your business.

If there’s one certainty in the retail and consumer goods sphere, it’s that your customers have come to expect seamless and personalised omnichannel experiences. 

What does that mean in practice? 

Well, imagine you’ve had your eye on a certain pair of shoes, but you want to try them on in person. The brand is direct to consumer (DTC), meaning they operate digitally, but fortunately this very week they have a pop-up store where you can try the shoes on. You take a look at their website and see they have three pairs in your size that you can try on. 

When you visit the store, the sales assistant gives you useful information about how to care for the shoes. She also explains that you can join their loyalty program, which you can quickly sign up for thanks to a handy QR code, and get a 10% discount that can be redeemed on the spot – ka-ching!

The following week, you receive some recommendations to compliment your shoes. 

That is what a seamless and personalised shopping experience might look like. In 2022 and beyond, retailers must focus on putting the customer’s experience first. Doing this requires understanding the role of your digital and in-person spaces, and ensuring all your teams are geared towards understanding and delighting the customer. These actions will help you build trust and, ultimately, gain their loyalty. 

During the latest Retail and Consumer Goods summit, Trailblazers like Coles, Barbecues Galore and R.M.Williams joined me in discussing the latest trends in retail and consumer goods.

Rethinking retail: putting experiences first

Thanks to the proliferation of DTC brands and ease of online shopping, consumers are spoiled for choice. Surprisingly though, this isn’t always reflected in their shopping habits. In fact, customers are turning to fewer retailers in nearly every category. And who is winning? It’s the retailers who build relationships with their customers and create memorable experiences. 

Stores connecting the online experience with their brick and mortar storefronts are seeing a “halo effect” for online sales. The halo effect refers to brands that see an increase in online sales when they have both physical and digital shops.

For example, say you stumble across a retail store and have a great customer experience, encountering informed and thoughtful staff who help you make the right purchasing decision. Having had such a great shopping interaction, would you visit their online store afterwards? It’s likely you would.    

So how can you maximise — and create consistent experiences across – your physical and digital (also known as ‘phygital’) channels? For starters, consider your brand image and values, and make sure you educate your staff on your brand’s values and history. 

Another huge consideration is how you view your different platforms. Here’s how Angus McDonald, CEO at Barbecues Galore puts it: “In-store and online are not competitors.” 

A barbecue is not something you’d purchase on a whim. Odds are, you spend weeks researching different options from your couch before heading into a store to see some features in person. 

Understanding that 70% of research is done online, Barbeques Galore has invested in the digital experience, while also fitting out their stores to be engaging and immersive — considering elements like layout, lighting and experience zones, including cooking demonstrations in store.

Key takeaway: Remember, people like to do business with people. It’s important you have the basics covered — understanding your customers, being relatable and having impact. Once you’ve nailed this, you need to tear down channel siloes and reevaluate the mix of channels, inventory, tools, technology, and personnel that will best serve the customer’s needs. Think about where merchandising, supply chain, IT and other teams may be able to collaboratively eliminate frustrations and enrich the lives of customers and employees.

Commercial Excellence Reimagined

It’s more important than ever for brands to operate as a collaborative team. Not just with your internal departments, but with your external suppliers as well. After all, your customers are more digitally-savvy than ever. They can find out product availability at the click of a button, or locate a cheaper alternative elsewhere. 

Orchestrating around the customer means uniting all the teams behind the scenes so they have access to the same data and customer view. For example, supermarket chain Coles relies on Salesforce to work with their suppliers to improve the information flow between our suppliers and customers. This could include information around promotions, nutrition, ingredients, carbon footprints, or the care and emotion that goes into the production of their products.

Key takeaway: The online and in-person experience aren’t disconnected — they both contribute to your customer’s experience and will be pivotal in securing their loyalty. Your metrics must reflect this: measure success based on omnichannel experiences.

Hear from 1 billion consumers and buyers about the latest commerce trends

Behind every consumer touchpoint is an employee

From commerce and user experience professionals, marketing and email roles, service and call centres to in-store assistants, your employees will shape whether shoppers continue to engage with you. Happier and more engaged employees are more likely to create a positive experience for your customers, regardless of whether the interaction is online or in-store.

It’s in retailers’ best interest to nurture the best employees, ensure they feel motivated and have a sense of purpose. And in a candidate’s market, creating a positive employee experience is more important than ever. In June 2022, almost 2 in 5 (39%) of retail businesses struggled to find suitable staff in June 2022, compared to 18% in June 2021. 

Empowering your staff to access and utilise customer data across different touchpoints is becoming increasingly important too. To help them personalise experiences, RCG leaders must equip their people with digital skills, for example through free training platforms like Trailhead.

3 ways to boost employee engagement and growth

Put simply, creating a great employee experience will benefit your customers, and your company as a whole. For retailers and consumer goods professionals, this may mean extra precautions around mental health and wellbeing, prioritising diversity and inclusion, upskilling them with digital skills and showcasing all the career opportunities in retail.

Key takeaway: Fantastic, memorable customer experiences depend on great employee experiences. And you can deliver great employee experiences by prioritising wellbeing at work, upskilling, equipping people with the right processes and information to focus on what they do best, and — last but not least — giving your team a sense of purpose.

Hear from 1 billion consumers and buyers about the latest commerce trends
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Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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