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Friday, 29 July 2011 14:50

Six Retailer Trends Changing the Way Consumers Shop in 2011

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Despite the sluggish economy, e-commerce reported record sales last year with an anticipated double-digit growth in 2011. Fueled by new technology and an evolving social-media shopping sphere, commerce is almost unrecognizable to the common consumer. However, it spells good news for retailers who quickly adopt such changing sales and marketing strategies. Here are six retailer trends that are changing the way consumers shop in 2011:

  1. Daily Deals – With the explosion of limited-time daily deals via group-buying (more than 23 million in the last year) and flash-sale sites like Jetsetter.com and Gilt Group, it is no surprise other retailers have adopted this successful sales strategy. In fact, online retailers now offer Deal-of-the-Day sales that bode well for sales. Even Facebook and Amazon have added daily deal services.
  2. Name Your Own Price – One company has recently taken the daily deal concept a step further with the launch of a new program, which allows customers to bid for clothing and accessories. The process allows the consumer to extend a sales offer for a particular item; the company then makes a final offer that the consumer can either accept or reject.
  3. Free Shipping – Retailers are talking about charging shoppers for use of their changing rooms. The move is designed to prevent consumers from trying items in-store, then buying them online at a discount price. Fortunately, retailers have shifted marketing efforts to target online shoppers by creating a more accessible e-shopping experience and offering free shipping both ways as well as site to store free shipping.
  4. Body Scanners in Malls – We are not talking about security scanners here, but rather a system that helps you deal with manufacturer's increasingly different sizing charts. “MyBestFit” addresses this problem with mall kiosks offering free 20-second, full-body scans. Here is how it works: You step fully dressed into a 380-degree booth and a wand rotates around you, emitting low-power radio waves that record roughly 200,000 body measurements to assess areas like bicep circumference. The system then matches these measurements to sizes in its database for roughly 50 stores.
  5. Mobile Sales, Coupons and Instant Deals – The busier we become, the more we rely on our smartphones to shop, compare prices and look for deals while on-the-go. Retailers have cottoned onto this need as a new opportunity for capturing and engaging customers. For example, the iPhone app, CouponSherpa, allows shoppers to research mobile coupons for specific items, and then use those same coupons at checkout. Amazon's iPhone app allows you to scan a bar code or take a photo of a product seen while window shopping and, at your later convenience, purchase that item with just
    one click.
  6. Social Media Sales – As Generation Xers move into their peak spending years and become entranced by social-media shopping, more retailers are jumping on the bandwagon to engage their customers via Twitter and Facebook.

Also known as social shopping, the process allows consumers and retailers to aggregate and share information in real time about special offers, products, prices and purchases. The big advantage to consumers is they need not leave a social-media site to shop and can immediately share their purchase with friends and other fans. This helps reduce the solitary feeling of online shopping. Via social media, merchants also provide information about special offers and, increasingly, coupon codes and downloadable coupons.

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