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  • 28 Aug

Strawberries In January

Guest blog by Andrew Busby. Andrew Busby is a former retailer, Founder & CEO of Retail Reflections and an IBM Futurist.

“We have no time for the traditional seasonal model of the fashion industry.”

You’ve been invited to a black tie dinner – time to get that killer cocktail dress you’ve always been lusting after. Quick look online and it should be delivered by Saturday. Great! Except – the experience is anything but. Right colour, wrong size; right size, wrong colour…

Sound familiar?

Strawberries in January

Great expectations

I’m sure many of us have trodden that wearisome path many times and wondered how can it be so difficult?

The truth is that our expectations are now highly attuned – influenced by friends, colleagues, the media – we are impatient and less tolerant than ever before. Today’s fashion industry is under pressure like never before, faced with consumers who are used to a relentless diet of instant gratification.

We don’t just expect, we demand.

And it’s assuming epic proportions, especially amongst Generation Z – those born after 1995 – digital natives who have never known a world without the internet, never known a world without a smartphone in their hand. They say the pen is mightier than the sword. Well, the smartphone is the new weapon of choice for many of us; always on, always connected, always broadcasting.

For Gen Z especially: search results not what was expected? Move on. No response within 2 seconds? Move on – voicing their frustration via social media as they go. It’s ruthless and it’s cutthroat. But it doesn’t end there.

Strawberries In January

Just as we have come to expect strawberries in January, equally we have no time for the traditional seasonal model of the fashion industry. It’s not known as fast fashion for nothing. Our insatiable thirst for newness and choice is hard to quench; the need to introduce new product at an increasingly swifter pace is overwhelming many.

Whilst the prize is great – witness the likes of Asos – who are on target for £4bn turnover by 2020 – for many the daunting size of the task can appear too great. Consumer demand is driving a new retail model as brands, both online and physical, are realising the absolute need to have a consistent and unique view of the product across the entire business.

Emotions Drive Behaviour

However, it’s a complex dynamic which is being played out, one which involves probably the most complex thing of all: our minds. In her excellent blog post, Business & Consumer Psychologist, Zana Apostolova, describes the role of emotions in driving our behaviour.

“The factors influencing purchasing behaviours are 80% emotions and 20% logic. This points to the fact that first we emotionally find reasons to buy, then we try to find reasons to validate that purchase”

Zana Apostolova, Psychologist

So it follows that whilst online still continues to grow – according to The Centre For Retail Research it is forecast to grow by 13.8% in 2018 – if emotions influence 80% of our purchasing behaviour doesn’t the real opportunity still remain in store?

Turbocharge The Experience

Because in store, the experience can be turbocharged and with the vast array of technology available today it can be done so like never before.

Strawberries in January

Returning to our fickle and impatient Gen Z’ers, on the face of it, the evidence can appear contradictory. Whilst they still love to shop online, the result of research of 15,000 Gen Z globally conducted by the National Retail Foundation in the US found that 98% want to buy in store. Thus stores are not only where the opportunity but the threat exists. Because that promiscuous online behaviour will be replicated ten fold in store.

Everything about the brand experience in store must work together in perfect harmony to create a true multi-sensory experience. This includes empowering your store colleague with the product information they need in order to help deliver that great experience. More play time equals more dwell time but when we want help, we want it quickly, efficiently and accurately.

We don’t simply want strawberries in January, we want them delivered to us on a plate.

Key Takeaways

  • In the world of fast fashion; consistent, unique product information is key to delivering a great brand experience;
  • Customer experience doesn’t end at the checkout; ignore all the other opportunities to engage with your customers at your peril;
  • Always bear in mind that your customers are impatient, lack tolerance, are fickle and demanding and it’s their unconscious mind which makes the majority of their decisions.

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