Typically, we expect to see a boost in customer spending over the summer as the warmer weather increases demand for summer goods, giving retailers cause for cautious optimism for the coming months.
But following a tumultuous few years for the retail industry caused by pandemic-imposed restrictions, supply chain challenges, and rising costs, competition is set to be hotter than ever. As we enter what is expected to be a busy summer, now is the moment for merchants to reassess strategies to ensure they are delivering on customer demands.
Beyond pounds and pence
Take value, for instance. The term ‘value’ is more important than ever to the modern customer, but the notion of it is multi-faceted.
Shopping habits have changed following events of recent times, with our recent research finding that 45 per cent of consumers consider shopping to be about the “whole experience” as opposed to just making a single purchase. Whether it’s online or instore, this shows that to win business and customer loyalty, retailers need to provide shoppers with an enjoyable shopping experience by delivering great customer service, a smooth checkout process or an easy to use website, alongside offering quality products at reasonable prices.
Retailers should focus on how they can deliver both tangible and intangible value that aligns with a customer’s demands around experience. Be it the two-thirds (65 per cent) looking for a last-minute delivery service, the six in 10 (61 per cent) who feel their loyalty should be rewarded with meaningful, easy-to-use reward schemes, or the similar number (60 per cent) who want flexibility at checkout – there are several ways retailers can stand out from the crowd and instil value in the shopping experience. It’s about understanding your target customers, regularly assessing the ‘value-add’ and evolving with changing demands to stay competitive.
Continuing to look for ways to deliver a best-in-class experience will help ensure retailers meet customer expectations during the uplift in summer footfall, as well as in the long term as shoppers further evaluate their spending in the lead up to the festive period.
Actions speak louder than words
Having a strong brand reputation is also critical. With shoppers increasingly cautious about where they spend, retailers that focus on reputation and sustainability will be in pole position. Our research showed that nearly seven in 10 (69 per cent) consumers consider a brand’s ethical and moral reputation important when deciding which retailer to shop with, rising to three-quarters (75 per cent) of 18–34-year-olds.
That might be by offering sustainable packaging or playing an active role in supporting local communities, retailers that are proactive in winning the hearts and minds of consumers will also win share of wallet.
Overall, the retail industry has shown its versatility and durability time and time again, and with competition heating up the coming months, now is the time to step up again. Those who deliver genuine value for their customers, in tandem with a positive brand reputation, can expect to reap the benefits of lasting loyalty.