7 Retail Customer Trends To Beware Of For The Holidays

By Bob Phibbs

customer trendsHolidays for retailers means more chances to engage shoppers and more chances to lose shoppers. Fueled by technology and instant communication, the world is rapidly changing, and your customer is hopping on for the ride.

Although many larger retailers are taking advantages of technology to reach a growing geographic market, when it comes to working in a brick and mortar store, the connected customer can be a more difficult customer.

Here are 7 trends that could derail your holiday sales expectations if you don’t proactively train how to deal with them.

Shorter Attention Spans

People are hyper scheduled, have less time and are used to instant results. If you can’t make a viable attempt at building trust in a few minutes, you’ve probably already lost. Current trends indicate that consumers are more likely to make purchases online to find the perfect product via Amazon, rather than wading through pages of Google. Or retailers who appear to not care.

Easily Distracted

The growing Millennial generation consumers—those in their late 20s to early 30s—are much more distracted than Baby Boomers. That's because they are used to multitasking, checking their work email while on-the-go, and keeping up lengthy conversations via texting. Sales eople and stores must work overtime during a sale to keep the customer interested.

A Culture of Returns

Small companies may have a hard time keeping up with trends when it comes to returns. Online shopping and big box stores offer lenient return policies that reduce the shopper's responsibility when making a purchase. Instead of deciding on the item first, retail trends indicated that many customers feel like they can give it a “free trial,” returning the item if they are not satisfied. Some luxury apparel retailers send two sizes automatically to customers because their fits can vary so much.

Free Shipping

Big box stores offer free in-store pickup on online orders and the growing Amazon Prime user base is used to free shipping perks on many of their orders. According to current trends, almost every online business offers a free shipping discount on orders over a certain amount, and customers are primed to look for that offer. Without free shipping, you may lose customers to the competition.

Bullies are Rewarded

“You never pay full price,” has become popular advice in many online blogs and articles. Tips on haggling, finding deals and arguing for free shipping or delivery have resulted in retail trends that are unfortunate for store employees. In many cases, shoppers are so bent on getting a great deal, they throw basic courtesy out the window and treat sales staff poorly. Not only does this mentality make it harder to make a sale, but it can also impact morale among your employees, especially in the upcoming holiday season.

Decreased Browsing Impacts Sales Ability

Today’s consumer is well-educated and connected. Before making a large purchase, the consumer has already researched online and enters a store with a single goal in mind. Even small and medium purchases are usually backed by a bit of research.The lack of browsing in current retail trends reduces the potential for display-driven sales and impulse buys can be reduced.

Bargain Hunters

There is almost always someone offering a lower price. Retailers like Best Buy and Toys R Us are trying to keep up with the low-price retail trends and offering price-matching. Even though a smaller business may offer more service than a bigger store, shoppers are often blinded by the dollar signs. It can be hard to justify a higher price, even if the shopper is getting a better value through your quality or service.

Despite these worrisome trends, you can still have a great holiday sales season. Embracing the new culture and working with these new realities instead of against it can help a great deal.

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