The Future Of Retail Is In The Shopper’s Hands

The Future Of Retail

Where is retail right now?

There’s a perception that retail is on its way out but that’s clearly not the case. The only thing that’s changing is how people interact and what they are expecting from an interaction.

Retail is a conversation 

The number one reason retail isn’t going anywhere is because it’s a social event. People don’t just want a product and that’s it. They want to feel informed and rewarded for their purchase decision, and this is a major weak spot in shopping online. 

The key to any relationship is two-way communication

But unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case when it comes to retail. The status quo has traditionally been one-sided and there has been little progress in developing a back and forth between stores and shoppers.

IRL Cookies

One space where two-way conversations are working is online. The use of cookies and other tracking technologies means brands are developing meaningful relationships with shoppers every time they interact. Where this falls off is when the interaction happens face-to-face, in-store. But what if we had access to real-life cookies that helped us develop relationships that happen on and offline? 

Retail is for the senses

The other strength retail has is its ability to connect people to products and services in a tangible way. People love retail because they want to touch, they want to be entertained, and they want to learn for themselves.  People get a sense of accomplishment when they physically achieve something and retail is a prime example of this. We are tactile creatures after all and we respond emotionally to this stuff. It’s in our DNA. 

The first step is becoming a good listener

Advertisers and brands have spent billions of dollars telling customers what they need. In the last few years the online market has learned that if you listen, you don’t need to tell people what they need at all, because they are already telling you online. Using a mix of technologies, retail can also adopt this listening style and start hearing what the customer wants every time they enter the store. 

The screens have ears

There are 5 principles to being a good listener and they are just as applicable to retail as they are in any relationship.

  1. Listen to learn
    Retail needs to listen to learn and we need to make it easy for our customers to talk.
  2. Quit our agenda
    When listening we need to forget our agenda and really pay attention to what’s been said. What we hear may well be against our marketing strategy, but we can’t let that taint what’s being said.
  3. Ask more questions
    When planning our points of interaction we need to constantly look for ways to ask questions. But remember, this is a conversation, not an interrogation. We need to be creative so the shopper always gets something in return.
  4. Always check your talk/listen ratio
    It’s easy to get carried away with the sound of your own voice but this can lead to shutting others down and making the experience one-sided.
  5. Repeat back what you heard 
    This will ensure you take away the correct meaning of what you’ve been told. It also lets the talker know you’re listening.

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