Engaging the trendy/fashion audience (retail boutique with 6 locations), what is the preferred engagement source (in-store, website, mobile, events, etc)?

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Engaging the trendy/fashion audience (retail boutique with 6 locations), what is the preferred engagement source (in-store, website, mobile, events, etc)?

78% of retail shoppers want sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range and 59% want real-time personal offers designed especially for them. 87% of shoppers look for information online before a store visit, and 75% of mobile users affirm that they go directly to a retailer's website or app on their device to address their needs. The preferred engagement channels for a retail boutique with trendy/fashion audience are online/mobile channels, customer service and customization, and user-generated content.

Retail Statistics

The following statistics were collected from a detailed report by PWC that surveyed 24,000 retail shoppers in 29 territories globally. The data presented below are from the United States retail industry only.

According to the report, of all the surveyed retail shoppers;

59% want real-time personal offers designed especially for them.
35% say the mobile/smartphone will become their main purchasing tool.
56% of shoppers use Amazon.
39% use social networks to get inspiration for purchases.
65% fear their personal information being hacked.
61% are loyal they know what they like and buy it most often.
59% want an inviting ambiance when they shop.
31% of jewelry and watch buyers worry that some products sold online aren’t genuine.
— Still #1 –78% want sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range.

These statistics give an overview of the US retail industry. Below I will hone in specifically on the fashion industry and the marketing trends and techniques which fashion retailers are using to take advantage of this data.

Fashion

Here are the stats that are directly affecting the fashion retail industry, some of which are similar to those above.

87% of shoppers look for information online before a store visit, 82% do so during a store visit, and 35%, do so after.
75% of mobile users affirm that they go directly to a retailer's website or app on their device to address their needs.
— "Omnichannel shoppers" — people who shop in stores and online are 8 times more valuable than those who shop in a single channel, according to Macy's.
82% of purchasing decisions are made whilst in a store.
62% of shoppers make an impulse buy while shopping.
16% of unplanned purchases are driven by in-store promotions.
71% of consumers feel more comfortable purchasing a product/service after being exposed to user generated content (UGC).

There are several statistics that demonstrate how retailers and especially fashion retailers should adapt their marketing for better engagement. Below I will look at the top trends in retail marketing that address the data above. These will also outline the preferred engagement sources for a retail boutique with a trendy/fashion audience.

Online and digital channels

Fashion retail companies are looking to appeal to the broader online market which continues to grow. As evidenced by the statistics above, 87% retail consumers are engaged online even before they ever visit a physical store. Retailers have thus been forced to adapt to this trend. They do this by creating a "Unified Shopping Experience" which merges physical brick-and-mortar stores and digital store experiences together. To do this, stores need an enhanced IT infrastructure and an accurate inventory management system to make smoother transitions between their online stores and physical stores.

Secondly, retailers are aiming to reduce the friction between the content they produce and the purchasing process. Some have done this by creating 'Click-and-Shop' content which allows users to seamlessly purchase their items on any device. This facilitates the growing trend of consumers using their smartphones to purchase items online.

Mobile Engagement

Seeing as consumers are beginning to use their phones to make purchases, retailers are slowly adapting. In 2016, web sessions for mobile platforms accounted for one-third of online sales. Apparently many shoppers are still concerned about the safety and security of transacting through mobile platforms. Some customers also dealt with unresponsive websites and poor shopper experiences. The future will see retailers adapt to the current trend and offer more mobile-oriented services for consumers.

Improved Customer service

Because 87% of shoppers state that sales associates influence their in-store purchasing decisions, retailers have begun offering extensive customer service to their audiences. As newer generation shoppers look to be engaged online, brands are putting systems in place to ensure that customers are served consistently. A good example of this is Tommy Hilfiger who introduced a 'Fashion Bot' to promote their brand, display their offerings, and enable customers to ask questions and receive answers at a faster rate.

Enhanced Customer ExpeRience

Given that 59% of retail shoppers want real-time personal offers designed especially for them, retailers are increasing their customization options aimed at enhancing customer experience.
A trend in the fashion industry that is reflective of this is real-time customization. The fashion industry is increasing its offerings of made-to-measure and products and integrating technology like 3D-printing and scanning to ensure each customer has their own customized products how they like them.

Blogs and UGC

Because customers are more likely to visit a brand via online channels, retailers are using blogs in tandem with social media and email marketing to enhance consumer loyalty and engage customers.

User-generated content is another way that retail bands are engaging their audiences. J. Crew, a reputable fashion company has been using UGC and blogs to engage their customers, allowing people to use their products and share their insights and thoughts. The retailer then links this content to their purchase platform allowing a consumer to go from reader to buyer efficiently and quickly.

Conclusion

To wrap up, the preferred engagement channels for a retail boutique with trendy/fashion audience are online/mobile channels, customer service and customization, and user-generated content. Engaging customers through these avenues tackles the fact that 78% of retail shoppers want sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range, 87% of shoppers look for information online before a store visit, and 75% of mobile users affirm that they go directly to a retailer's website or app on their device to address their needs.
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