4 things consumers value most

Wise words from Down Your High Street’s Daniel Whytock.

Consumer trends have been changing and evolving rapidly over the past ten years or so. Technology and ecommerce have accelerated the pace and diversity of these changes, making it difficult for retailers to catch up.

The coronavirus pandemic has made things even more difficult and confusing, and it can be hard for retailers to know what customers even want, never mind how to give it to them.

Working with so many brands, doing research into the retail space, and promoting DownYourHighStreet has given me a unique perspective on what consumers value most and how retailers can offer it to them.

Here, in my experience, are the four things consumers value most...

1 CONVENIENCE

Websites like Amazon have spoiled customers with their free next day delivery. While it is very difficult for smaller brands to compete with free next day delivery, it should still be possible to find a middle ground, where shipping costs are kept to a minimum and arrive within a few days of placing an order.

There are now comparison sites for couriers, for example, dramatically reducing delivery costs and opening more online retailers to competitive delivery options.

Local retailers are in the perfect position as they can offer free in-store returns, as well as allowing customers to touch and feel the product before buying. This can increase trust, reassure customers that they can get support or return items, and opens independent retailers to more Click & Collect options. The challenge for local retailers is getting found.

2 COST

Consumer shopping habits are changing with a preference for local goods that both support the local economy and lead to fewer product miles, helping to care for the environment. Finding a marketplace, like DownYourHighStreet, for more local goods means you are being compared to like-for-like products and services, not cheap imported goods.

Another answer is to create your own audience of engaged ‘brand fans’ using your social channels. Creative marketing through platforms like Facebook and Instagram connects brands directly to customers, allowing you to build a relationship like never before. This is contributing to a re-emergence of brand loyalty which, in a marketplace of cheaper goods, can be the deciding selling factor for smaller brands!

3 LOCAL SEARCH

There has been a big trend towards purchasing from local businesses, with Google ‘near me’ searches rising 500% year on year. Buying local supports the local economy, is more traceable, and is often perceived as being higher quality. Truly local retailers also benefit from being able to offer something unique ─ an ever more important quality shoppers are looking for, especially in the Instagram generation. However, the trend towards local doesn’t excuse local businesses from having an online presence. Customers still want to be able to search, compare and complete purchases online. They’re just happier if the product is local, they can touch and try the product, and they know they can pick it up quickly and easily. One solution to this competition of needs is the creation of Business Improvement Districts (BIDS), where local businesses get together and chip into the creation of a combined ecommerce presence. For example, on DownYourHighStreet, we have a sub-page for Brighton called Brilliant Brighton.

4 AN ELEMENT OF SURPRISE

Something customers miss from in-store experiences is the element of surprise and delight. When in a physical shop, there may be videos, imagery or other instructional material. There may be something fun to do or an experience to be had that is almost entirely missing from the online shopping experience. These experiences connect people to brands and generate customer loyalty. The good news is, online retailers can benefit from surprising and delighting customers just as physical stores can, perhaps even more so. It could be something as simple as a small bag of sweets included in the delivery, or a hand-written note thanking the customer for their purchase. Connecting these experiences with your online presence, via your social media pages, for example, is a great way to capitalise on the feel-good factor and keep the connection going.

Daniel Whytock is CEO of DownYourHighStreet.com – a free to join online marketplace on a mission to create the world’s longest high street by connecting community with commerce and giving the Great British High Street an online presence. www.downyourhighstreet.com

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