2014 was the year of the Ice Bucket Challenge, Pharrell’s “Happy”, Disney’s “Frozen”, and the infamous Oscar selfie featuring Ellen Degeneres, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and other famous celebs. On the other hand, in the world of retail, 2014 could be labeled as the year of the consumer experience.
No matter where, when, how and why a person purchased a product, it was all about the process being fast, easy, and simplified. There is no doubt that consumers expect the best of the best when it comes to customer service and experts across the board say that currently, “the power has shifted from retailers to consumers,” and the customers are calling the shots. They have won the battle of pricing, shipping, and overall satisfaction when it comes to a purchase decision (BWP Group).
And there’s no stopping this trend. Americans are consistently shopping and the numbers are growing. The amount of total spending has risen this year, around 0.7% in November despite feeble Black Friday sales (Census Retail Sales Report).
With the constant evolution of the consumer experience, there is no doubt that growth in technology, social media, customization, and more will continue.
Here’s a list of the top most memorable moments in retail for 2014:
Who would have thought we would be reaching a time where a smartphone doubles as a wallet? Officially introduced on September 9, 2014, Apple Pay could possibly become the norm within a few years span. But some critics are uncommitted in the matter, stating, “The world today is still in an early adoption phase with regard to new payment methods and mobile wallets, and retailers still have to contend with EMV and mag-stripe data and advanced threats” (Gothard).
Others suggest it will take much longer to become the standard way of pay. Currently, only 220,000 stores have the point-of-sale terminals that can accept contact-less payments like Apply Pay. Even though that may sound like a lot of stores, it is not as widespread as it could be, leaving out the other 6 million retail stores nationwide (Forbes).
The fact is, Apple pay is out there, and it’s a possible revolution in the world of the digital payment.
Retail is growing and so are the jobs in the industry.
In fact, statistics from 2014 show that there are 3,793,621 million retail establishments that provide 42 million jobs. The industry also supports 5 million logistics jobs, 4 million management jobs, 2 million health care and service jobs, 2 million finance, insurance, and real estate jobs, and 800,000 technology jobs (NRF).
Chief Economist of the National Retail Federation, Jack Kleinhenz, said, “The economy is progressing toward sustainable growth with employment gains key to improved confidence and self-reinforcing economic growth.” That growth can be seen this past October as well, with over 22,000 jobs added to the retail industry (NRF).
Currently, 85% of people state that their mobile device is a central part of their lives. That device along with other forms of online e-commerce is increasing. According to Forrester’s May 2014 research, U.S. retail sales are expected to grow from $263 billion (2013) to $414 billion (2018), at a compound annual growth rate of 9.5%.
A recent survey also found 63% of consumers planned to use a laptop or home computer to make purchases or research items this past holiday 2014 season, up 16 percentage points from last year (Accenture).
In strictly online sales this past Black Friday and Thanksgiving 2014, consumers set new online records with $1.33 billion and $2.4 billion in sales, respectively (MarketingLand.com).
Taking a look at e-commerce powerhouse, Amazon, you can purchase items with the utmost of ease. With the Amazon Prime feature, consumers can purchase a single item with a click of a button. If you have not heard about Amazon Prime, it is Amazon’s shipping service where for a yearly fee, as a member, you get free shipping on any item you buy within that year; no matter how many items you buy, big or small. That’s a huge incentive to buy different products online without hassle.
The self-service theme was also huge in 2014. According to RetailCustomerExperience.com, self-service kiosks empower customers, create opportunities to up-sell, increase time for staff to provide personal service, and simplify the supply chain (2014). Just look at the current collection of self-service machines. This includes express checkouts at grocery stores, the Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine, almost all frozen yogurt shops, DIY check-outs in hotels, and many more. Smart service is an incentive for the consumer (saving time) and the retailers (saving money) and there is no doubt the self-service trend is here to stay.
Have you seen more iPads in stores or sales associates holding them, ready and eager to help? These iPads as well as your own mobile devices encourage interactivity, engagement and social sharing inside the store environment.
In addition, Walmart’s new smartphone apps made a splash in the world of technology and retail this year. According to the mega-retailer, its “app-wielding customers make twice the shopping trips per month and spend 40% more than non-app users” (Fast Company). With those types of numbers, it’s certain that Walmart’s smartphone efforts are effective. Other ideas and improvements the area of shopping marketing at Walmart in the future include, “the ability to guide customers (via GPS) directly to products in its cavernous stores, and even let them skip the checkout line and scan and pay for items with their smartphones” (2014). Sounds appealing, right?
Another technological advantage is a retail store knowing that a consumer is currently at their location and texting a promotion right to his/her smartphone. Does this take it too far? In our opinion, it is scary but satisfying. Having a store know you are inside it and showing promotions takes the guess-work out of looking up the sales on one’s own. The downside for consumers? You spend money you might have not spent. The upside for retailers? More sales.
Social Media Madness
This year, Target launched “Awesome Shop” which is a site that showcases the store’s best reviewed and most pinned items. The “Awesome Shop” idea was formulated with Pinterest in the back of the developer’s minds. Target sent out a press release with their clearly stated goal.
“This curated crop of trending items is a shoppable visual catalog that inspires gift ideas and helps you discover cool stuff that everyone currently loves” (Target).
Going onto “Awesome Shop” gives the consumer the feel of a bulletin board, with the functionality of an online store. Similarly to Pinterest, those people who visit “Awesome Shop” can see what is the most sought after and trending gifts, helping shoppers feel more connected in more than one space (VendHQ).
Speaking of Pinterest, the social media platform is leading the pack when it comes to influencing purchase decisions. In fashion and retail, 18% of content engagement on the site is driven by brands. Pinterest shoppers also spend significantly more per checkout, averaging between $140-$180 per order. They also own America’s trust; 81% of US consumers trust information and advice from Pinterest (DigiDay).
People loved their custom-made products in 2014. Whether it was etching a name into a drinking glass or a cutting board (check out our friends at Words With Boards), we saw the rise in custom-for-you sales. DIY e-commerce and custom-made website, Etsy, surpassed $1 billion in sales in 2013, and we are still waiting to hear the stats for 2014. 2014 was the year we moved out of the era of the “mass and the cheap,” and into the age of “luxury and made for me” (Now and Next).
About Sharn Enterprises, Inc:
Sharn Enterprises, Inc is no stranger to the lover of a custom product. Since 1974, we have been designing and manufacturing custom displays for retail environments. Our clients and customers realize that a stock display just doesn’t cut it when it comes to selling products in brick and mortar stores. If you are looking for a custom permanent or semi-permanent point-of-purchase display for your products or retail store, check us out at www.sharndisplays.com!
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