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2011 Retail Trends


2011 is upon us. And while the economy is showing only tepid signs of improvements there will be advancements in retailing due to innovation – what a concept!

Retailing 101 for 2011


1. Digital Domination – according to the Nielsen Company the majority of mobile phones by 2011 in the U.S. will be smartphones, with the devices used by half of cell phone subscribers, or 150 million people, by mid-2011. And yet, despite the rapid adoption of digital technology, the majority of retailers have been slow to respond to the opportunity.

At the same time, consumers are increasingly more willing to allow access to their private information. now allows users to link their Amazon account to their Facebook account, so that the subjects in their social posts can be integrated into their Amazon recommendations.

With retailers scrambling to take advantage of digital’s new channels for customer insight, interaction and engagement, they will also be faced with data overload — more information on customers, transactions and operations than they know what to do with. Turning the data into profit driving action will separate the winners from the losers.

2. Let’s Make A Deal – The group bartering trend has been formalized through programs such as Groupon, where stores grant deep discounts if enough people sign up for them. Members only clubs for apparel like Gilt Groupe, are being adopted by other categories. Flash sales, or time-limited offers via text or Twitter, will continue to trigger impulse buying and give shoppers the smart feeling of having scored a great deal. Traditional retailers like J. Crew are already learning to use the flash sale: It recently opened an online factory store only on the weekends for deal-happy shoppers. (from Bruce Dybvad of Interbrand)

3. Customer Service Is The New Marketing – The old retail adage that a dissatisfied customer would tell 7 people is clearly dated. Now, through social media sites, they can tell 7 million people. Alternatively, “raving fans” can be your biggest source of new business as they tell everyone how great your company is. Consumers believe what their peers say about your company more than they believe any of your own paid advertising.

4. Retail Will Re-Focus – The 80/20 retail rule of thumb said that 20 percent of a store’s SKUs equaled 80 percent of sales. That rule will be turned on its head. In a digital world with almost infinite choice, shoppers will be drawn to stores with a personalized focus. Physical store concepts will become smaller, better executed and highly tailored. Assortments will become relevant and finely curated as they evolve toward true demand.  As shoppers buy less of what’s mainstream and more of what suits them individually, 80 percent of units will earn 80 percent of profits. Additionally, private labels, localized sourcing and cultural influences will be further differentiators, as shoppers demand simplicity, convenience and closeness. (Interbrand)

5. The Full Resurrection of E-Mail – Groupon has an e-mail list of at least 15 million strong in the U.S. which goes to show that a true permission asset can be worth nearly $6 billion on the bidding table.

E-mail addresses are a safer long-term investment than social media features. Think about all the money companies spent advertising their MySpace pages in 2007. Even on Facebook, your direct messages to fans are relegated to a second tier inbox no one reads. This is something you don’t have to worry about happening in e-mail marketing. Among 20- to 35-year olds, at least, their physical addresses change more frequently than their e-mail addresses.

I’m not suggesting retailers give up on social media – quite the contrary. But jumping off email campaigns to go exclusively with social media would be unwise.

5.5. 2-D Barcodes – Think of QR codes as the barcodes currently read by the cashier at your local grocery store.  Those codes contain product information such as pricing, sku, inventory info, etc.; scanning the info enables them to move you quickly thru checkout, and if you are part of the grocery store loyalty/discount program, then it also uploads a history of your purchases to your account.  This allows the grocery chain to provide you with special offers related to the types of purchases you make, it helps them see how often you visit their store, and it helps them with inventory/purchasing management.

QR codes are the same thing – but these are scannable by cell phones – and any company can put whatever information inside the code that they would like.

5.5 trends – that’s half of the predictable 11 Trends for 2011.

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