2014 was a mixed bag in retail, but the trends that fired were value seekers, evident through the wider growth of Aldi and private label; the appeal of customisation reflected by e-tailer Shoes of Prey moving into old school bricks and mortar; and the focus on creating great instore experiences as seen in new Coles and Woolworths stores.
There are five trends that I believe will motivate Australian consumers and help you capitalise on sales as we move into 2015.
Move to mobile wallets
It has been long predicted and never really transpired, but 2015 will see mobile wallets make their mark. Australia already has the highest tap and go usage in the world and the recent launch of Apple Pay has greatly increased consumer awareness of the mobile wallet concept.
Coles has launched a free mobile wallet service for its credit card holders, ANZ will launch one early in 2015, and Commonwealth Bank has stated it expects mobile wallets to replace physical wallets in Australia by 2021.
With the concept backed by major financial players, retailers must consider developing a mobile payment strategy and subsequently address technology deployed (investment in new POS), financial implications (where the fees go), and privacy and data security considerations. Simultaneously they should consider leveraging the fact that shoppers have their mobile in their hand at all times through other opportunities such as targeted offers (i.e. iBeacon).
Break down borders
More of us now use instant connectivity to shop 24/7 and that same connectivity to access global products and brands at much lower prices. In 2015, Australia’s e-commerce experience will finally catch up (because it has to!).
Australia Post’s launch of ShopMate gives credibility to the option of buying from overseas to those who previously may not have considered it feasible. Australian retailers and brands must now move faster to compete with better delivery times, online ranges, price competitiveness and quality of experience.
Australian retail has benefited from its relative isolation for too long so as borders disappear shopper pressure for easy online eCommerce solutions will intensify. First mover advantage and great experiences could significantly impact sales.
Get private and personal
With private label grocery brands now making up around up a quarter of all Australian supermarket sales, a new, differentiated market is being created. While we are familiar with grocery private label (more than 95 per cent of Aldi’s range is private label) it is moving far beyond that channel, popping up everywhere from DIY and pharmacy, to cosmetics and wine.
Brands used to be the differentiator of quality, but now convenience is creeping up the importance scale. The implication for retailers is the opportunity to develop strong private label brands in their own right as Tesco is doing in the UK with its Chokablok luxury ice cream and chocolate range.
For brands, the key is maintaining or increasing mental availability of their brands to make them even stronger against this new wave of private label.
Cross your T’s
It is time to be open and honest with shoppers before they catch you out. This year a new set of privacy principles was introduced and we are entering a new age of price transparency. From exclusive product to loyalty programs, you must add value. Clearer transparency in ethics and where and how products are made and sourced will continue to be demanded by consumers.
US-based grocery chain, Kroger’s Simple Truth brand took a hit recently when its claim of chicken ‘raised in a humane environment’ turned out to be raised under standard commercial farming methods. The brand is still huge (forecast to be US$1 billion this year), but the potential damage is hard to quantify.
In Australia, The Heart Foundation’s Tick of Approval has come under fire, with an online petition led by celebrity chef, Pete Evans, calling on the business to update nutrition advice or trash the program. NAB agreed to settle a class action over unfair fees, which could see up to 30,000 customers share in up to $40 million compensation.
Do your homework
As e-commerce rises in importance the need to maximise purchase conversion in bricks and mortar greatly increases. Guided selling has been around for some time, and will start to become commonplace as the next evolution of sales force automation helping brands and retailers to actively guide a shopper’s buying decision.
For example, despite the global appeal of George Clooney, Nestle employed a fleet of robots to sell its Nespresso coffee machines in Japanese stores, touting their capability of human emotions as companionable guides in a country facing chronic labor shortages. This technology can also transpire in apps and digital guides to help real salespeople sell in a more structured way, such as simple Q&A guides. Shoppers have such app, so why not equip sales staff with the same?
Retail as an industry will be more complex in 2015 so to win you must monitor the trends, quickly adjust, modify models, and most importantly listen to your shoppers.
Peter Firth is a Director at TNS, the world’s largest shopper insights agency. He advises on growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management.