Coming out of another year of – don’t say it – uncertainty… Kobie’s strategy and analytics experts suspect a few trends that have risen to the top are here to stay. Whether you’re planning your brand roadmap or assessing the member journey between digital and physical (or as we like to call it, “phygital”) interactions, there’s no denying that brands need to stay on their toes when it comes to forecasting and engagement. Here’s why:
There is no off-season in retail, seasonality is “always-on”
We saw Holiday shopping kick-off earlier than ever last year, with spend flowing outside peak periods. 91% of shoppers in a survey by Oracle said they bought earlier than usual due to supply chain worries[i] and 31% of shoppers in a Ipsos survey said they began purchasing for the holidays in June.[ii] That means retailers need to start thinking about Holiday now, in early Q2.
When dealing with supply chain constraints, retailers can ease the shopping and planning experience by managing inventory flow and managing customer expectations. Transparent communication is key and can help set shoppers up for success.
So how are brands leveraging limited merchandise when it comes to loyalty?
For one, brands can introduce continual newness and create urgency through messaging. This can be done through dedicated product drop calendars with limited windows for action, such as time blocked exclusive access for loyalty members to pre-reserve items, or through tailored content targeting member growth, reactivation, or reward strategies. Kobie uses data analytics modeling to help clients segment their member base and assess how special offerings for select member segments can positively impact the brand. By pulling these model levers, brands can identify the right loyalty strategies and when to implement them to overcome buying challenges.
Shifting shopper expectations will drive innovation
Another theme that has bubbled up in the market is the evolution of convenience and choice. Brands are keen to explore innovative engagement tactics from increased payment options to livestream shopping events. Expanded social commerce has also gained shopper attention, and consumers are taking the bait.
A Klarna survey revealed that 25% of shoppers have attended a virtual livestream shopping event, with 60% of those saying it improved their shopping experience.[iii] Brands are also pushing the limits with convenience offerings and partnerships. Notably JCPenney’s expansion to near real-time order receival through their same day delivery partnership with Doordash[iv] offers a layer of convenience that is hard to match.
Engaging customers through non-traditional channels and services will continue to expand, led by mobile & social. Social media platforms, for example, are taking advantage of digital accelerations and rising eCommerce trends such as IG’s launch of Instagram Shops. This is a huge channel for brands to explore, as research has shown that selling through social media channels like Instagram’s Shops rose 35.8% in 2020.[v]
Brands should focus on meeting consumer needs through emotional connection and convenience, and programmatic loyalty supports both. Kobie helps brands find new ways to meet these needs through our ELS tool, which uncovers specific consumer expectations and emotional motivators.
The store has evolved to be a competitive differentiator
Throughout 2021, stores made a positive impact on the customer buying journey by leaning into service and experience enhancements through differentiation.
We’re seeing store-in-store concepts continue to pop up and brands are tapping into experiences that align with their shoppers’ interests. Dick’s Sporting Goods is piloting experiential stores with rock climbing walls and batting cages in key markets.[vi] And limited-time pop-ups from established retailers and brands are becoming increasingly popular channels to sell unique products and experiences.[vii] Similarly, traditional, larger stores have gone to the store-in-a-store concept like Sephora at Kohl’s.[viii]
As competition steepens and shoppers seek to interact across all touch points at any time, seamless integration with the store will be a key to differentiation. Brands can accelerate brand affinity by building partnership programs and exclusive experiences tailored to members. They can also invest in dynamic personalization to create more 1:1 loyalty experiences using a MarTech solution like Kobie Alchemy® Loyalty Cloud to connect and power marketing activities throughout the journey.
As times change, so do retail consumer trends. Loyalty is an underutilized tool that can identify customer sentiment, paving the way for brands to explore innovative solutions to drive customer engagement despite supply chain challenges and evolving expectations.
Contact Kobie to learn more about how emotional motivators and programmatic loyalty can provide a strategic framework for member engagement and brand objectives.
[ii] Think with Google (Oct. 2021). 3 early holiday shopping trends for the 2021 holiday season
[iii] Retail Dive (5 Jan. 2022). Can livestream shopping in the US catch up to China’s soaring growth?
[iv] Retail Touchpoints (17 Dec. 2021). JCPenney, Shoe Carnival Launch Same-Day Delivery in Time for the Final Holiday Rush
[v] Retail Dive (29 July 2021). E-commerce skyrocketed during the pandemic. Now Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat want in
[vi] Pittsburgh Business Times (16 Feb. 2021). Dick’s Sporting Goods to expand range of experiences to be had at new store concept
[viii] Retail Dive (11 Oct. 2021). 7 experiential store concepts that opened this year