Raydiant’s new series, the Future of Shopping, interviews experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for what lies ahead.
The following is an interview we recently had with Jake Munday, Co-Founder and CEO of Custom Neon.
How has consumer shopping behavior evolved over the past 5 years?
The past five years have seen a significant shift in consumer behaviors, both in terms of purchasing patterns and product demands. The continued proliferation of connected devices has resulted in countless new avenues through which shoppers can research, browse, purchase and review products. Shoppers have also become more tech-savvy, using cash-back rewards and coupon finder sites (such as Honey) to ensure that they obtain the best deals. Add to this the explosion of online retail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I think it’s definitely safe to say that recent times have seen a seismic shift in the way that consumers shop.
These consumers have become more responsible with their purchases, seeking quality over quantity, and often informing decisions by consuming reviews or opinions surrounding the good or service in question. Furthermore, consumers are becoming more engaged in social and ecological issues, often prioritizing businesses that champion sustainable packaging, natural materials and any number of local or international charities.
Brick and mortar retailers have combated the explosion of online shopping by opting for more targeted marketing tactics, as seen through exclusive in-store promotions, loyalty programs and in-person events. Although, despite these changes, recent years have seen some physical retailers lose the personal touch that separated them from their online competitors. The adoption of self-service checkouts can be seen as a prime example of this concept, essentially serving to negate the niceties of regular customer interaction in favor of efficiency.
What are the top 3 trends shaping the ways consumers shop?
- Modern consumers are looking for purpose driven brands that they can trust. In order to stand out from the pack, brands need to go out of their way to demonstrate support for the same values and morals as their target consumers. These demonstrations need to be undertaken in actionable ways that result in tangible change, lip service simply won’t cut it.
- 2021 has seen shoppers move further and further away from brick and mortar stores. E-Commerce sites have become increasingly interactive, with AR technology and custom tools providing online shoppers with experiences that can rival or exceed physical stores.
- The use of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) options has increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic, providing new avenues for both consumers and retailers. From a consumer’s perspective, these BNPL options provide an affordable, interest free way to shop that provides instant gratification. On the other hand, these options serve to bolster sales for retailers by breaking down barriers to entry and drawing in new consumers. Since introducing BNPL options at Custom Neon, we have seen a noticeable increase in average sale value, due in large part to the flexibility that these payment options provide.
What’s the future of shopping?
Hyper Customization: One trend that I expect to define the future of shopping is the continued expansion of product customization and customer agency in the purchasing process. Recent advances in digital technology and the manufacturing capabilities of wholesalers has enabled businesses to invite customers to customize their products during the online purchasing process. Major brands such as Xbox and Nike serve as great examples of this trend currently being adopted, through their respective Xbox Design Lab and the Nike By You initiatives.
I expect 2022 to serve as the mainstream ‘coming out party’ for product customization, with smaller brands now having access to reliable and affordable means of production. Ultimately, this trend will allow brands to remain competitive by enticing customers to become part of the design process, providing them with an element of ownership over their product prior to even purchasing it. Product customization also promotes repeat purchases of the same product, with the aforementioned Xbox Design Lab serving as a great excuse for hardcore gamers to purchase multiple controllers that they might not necessarily even need.
What are 3 actionable steps an organization can take to prepare for the future?
- Bolster their online presence by focusing heavily on SEO and website functionality. Recent updates to Google’s algorithm have meant that the overall speed and responsiveness of online stores is more vital than ever when it comes to search engine rankings. Organizations planning for the future should also look to adapt their strategies to account for online voice searches, a segment that is continuing to see exponential growth.
- Keep an eye out for technological advancements related to payment. Fintech companies across the world are constantly striving to streamline the payment process, providing consumers with more convenient ways to shop. I would suggest that all organizations take stock of the payment methods that they currently provide and look to improve their offerings by comparing the fees and features of BNPL services.
- Cultivate a brand that is built on value and substance. Tap into the emotions of your target market by advocating for causes that you both authentically believe in. Organizations should also look to put a face to their brand that can communicate the beliefs and mission of the employees.