Hey, guys, it’s Syama Meagher, CEO of Scaling Retail, and we all want to know how consumers are buying for 2019 and beyond. Well, we’ve been seeing a huge trend, both in terms of in-store and online activations that consumers have been responding to dramatically.
The first thing we’ve been seeing is a lot of in-store educational platforms. Companies like Club Monaco and Rebecca Minkoff, have all started doing a lot of great programming in store. Whether that’s interviews with key people who are in specific, let’s say, female empowerment or women entrepreneurs, looking at different topics, looking at different small clusters of industry groups and trends, and really capitalizing them in terms of in-store experiences.
Now, why is that so amazing? Well, guys, it’s not just about having a trunk show or a pop-up shop to get someone to purchase, when we actually think about the ways in which we can bring consumers into our spaces, sometimes it’s about adding something of value in a totally different way. Portland-based small fashion business, Field Trip, does a great job of having macramé classes and tarot card readings and other types of ways of getting people to come in store without saying, “Hey, this is just a shopping opportunity.” So creating experiential in-store through education, through talks, through other kinds of lecture series have been an amazing way in which a lot of key retailers have been activating community and getting people to come in store, and again, to think about their brand beyond just the product.
MATCHESFASHION.COM did a great job when they launched 5 Carlos Place, which was a huge operation for them. A multiple-story home turned into an amazing experiential atmosphere, 5 Carlos Place now holds events, not just towards talks and lectures but also personal styling, right, having trunk shows and other types of events to bridge their community. So, guys, we’re seeing all sorts of ways in which people are bringing customers into the stores. And remember, because it takes five to six different touchpoints to close a sale, it doesn’t mean that when they come there to listen to one of their favorite people speak, that they’re necessarily going to buy something at that moment, but get them into your brand and five or six touchpoints later, you will have created a brand-loyal fan.
Now, the second big trend that we’re seeing that’s huge for 2019 consumer buying trends is mobile shopping and using mobile stylists and chatbots. Now, why is that amazing? Stylist brand Threads Styling has done an amazing job of harnessing lots of Millennial stylists combined with about 90 or so stylists combined with the power of chatbots and with 50 luxury partnerships has created one of the most influential mobile styling platforms that’s working with today’s affluent Gen Zs and Millennials. The average basket for someone who’s shopping on Threads Styling is $3,000, a huge differential from a company like Mytheresa, another online luxury platform, that sells products with an average basket of about $700.
So when we’re thinking about these buying trends, the consumers are looking to have on-demand styling. They want to be able to purchase things right away. They don’t just want to say, “Hey, you might like this or you might like that,” but they want to know that there’s someone on the other end that has the capability to be able to help style their outfits. Now, Threads Styling first started off as a very unique offering to a small London hotel has now expanded into multiple markets and has found the majority of their customers actually coming from the Middle East. Right, those customers have a lot of cash flow, young spenders. They want to walk away with something different and something special. So be on the lookout for new mobile platforms and ways that you can engage with customers in real time and offer amazing styling opportunities to them. There are tech solutions out there that can even work for the smaller fashion startup businesses out there. So do your research, keep up with fashion tech trends and keep your ear to the ground.
Now, the final trend in consumer behavior actually comes out of shipping company Narvar. Now, Narvar did a really interesting study of a lot of customers, I meant, well over a thousand customers that they interviewed and actually found that the majority of them are looking for more seamless experiences through the shipping process. Now, it doesn’t mean having a seamless checkout. What they actually found was that customers wanted to be in communication more with the brands as products were being shipped to them. So that means you get an update when the product gets placed, when the order gets placed, an update when it gets shipped, an update when it’s on route, and then certainly same-day communication when that product is being sent to your door.
So enterprise businesses, what does this mean for you? Well, when we’re looking at incorporating a lot of these trends, we really need to make sure that we have our eye on what is best for the consumer. So what does that mean? That means investing into technologies that’s going to add value to that customer experience as it either relates to shipping, shopping, or any type of in-store events that you might be doing. Again, not just tailored towards trying to convert into a sale, but genuinely doing curated events on topics that are interesting and on different kinds of, I don’t know, passion points that your customers really want to be engaged around. A great opportunity if your brand stands for something, it’s passionate about something. Using an opportunity to bring in other guest speakers and curate opportunities for your customers to meet these people is a great way of saying, “Hey, we care about you, customer, apart from just you giving us your dollars and your money.”
Now, for growth stage companies, as we look to these consumer buying trends, the most important thing I would say to really, really stay clear of is starting to try to do too many of these things at once. It’s very important that you limit your investments to things you’re going to be able to see an immediate ROI on in the next six to nine months. Honestly, depending on the size of your small fashion business, I’m going to say that doing some integrations into upgrading your technology is one of the things that is probably the most crucial for you at this point. Oftentimes, as we scale up, we think so much about outbound marketing activities, we fail to understand that without having infrastructure to help support that, our outbound marketing activities will feel flat, right, as far as how you’re going to be juicing that and doing better with that data over time. We need to capture the data. We need to make sure that we have those right opportunities. So I would say growth stage businesses invest in the infrastructure, invest in technology. You’re in a totally different ball game from your days as a fashion startup.
Now for the fashion startup brands out there, I know this is a lot to take in. How do I get in front of my customer? What is the easiest way that I can stay on top of these trends that are happening? The best thing I would say is to really start off by being grassroots. Right. Consumer buying trends consistently are telling us that customers want to have in-real-life touchpoints. Chances are you’re already thinking about your next pop-up shop, you’re already thinking about those opportunities. Double-down on making them the best experiences ever. Make sure they’re real, make sure they’re authentic, make sure these are Insta-bait moments where you know that your customers are going to spread the message, you’re going to have some good reverb on any of these events that you do. And fashion startup businesses, I would say take advantage of your opportunity as being a possible thought leader within your space, as being a CEO who actually could have some influence, right? So while you might be a CEO of a small fashion business, you can actually have a lot of reach as being a CEO of that company. So as you’re looking at brand strategy to get in front of your consumer, do not forget the importance of your own personal influence and your own personal brand strategy to help get your customer to come back to that brand.
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