Emerging Retail Expressions to Watch Out For

From my recent research into buying online – but also in store – it appears there are some expressions that all retailers should be aware of and be able to work on in the lead up to the very important Christmas retail period (not to mention the returning Christmas shopping precursor: Click Frenzy) .

These observations have led me to realise that the leaders of our industry are setting the agenda for these concepts, with others encouraged to play a rapid game of catch up. So what are they? Below are three examples of the kind of jargon that is becoming more prevalent in our retail lexicon.

Empowered Customer

This term that has been around a little more this year and will certainly play a role in the years to come. 10 years ago – even five years ago – retailers and businesses set the agenda for buying, opening times, prices, variety, availability, consumer focus etc. However those days appear well and truly over.

Consumers can now shop all night, and from anywhere with the use of mobile and internet access. Purchasing from stores overseas while waiting for a tram at 10pm is entirely possible. Researching price, selecting from a broader range and increased variety means that instead of the retailer influencing the consumer, the consumer now dictates terms to the retailer. The empowered customer is very service savvy and has high expectations on delivery, returns and customer service, regardless of whether the store transacts online, offline or both.

Ultimately, the empowered customer simply doesn’t care which channel they shop in, but that’s perhaps the strongest argument for ensuring a good multichannel strategy – it has never been easier or quicker for a customer to spend elsewhere.

Engaging Content

One of the weapons in the arsenal of today’s retailer is engaging content; and that is presenting a website that doesn’t give the customer a reason to leave. A site that aims to replicate the tactile in-store experience as well as presenting multiple service options will make it difficult for the empowered customer to walk/navigate away. Recently, Mark Gray wrote about the importance of pictures – which is apt, but Gray fails to highlight the increasing move towards other forms of rich media. Video, augmented reality and 3D visuals (such as we’ve recently seen employed by Black Milk Clothing) will all become increasingly employed differentiators as the expectations of empowered customers continue to rise.

Entitled Customer

Following on from the empowered customer is the entitled customer. More and more we are seeing social media feeds dominated by an angry/disappointed/let down friend. As humans, we love to share stories – and we also love to re-share them.

As the empowered customer may walk away, the entitled one feels and has the ability to broadcast their displeasure far and wide.

Some of the sharing we see on Facebook or Twitter is positive, but much like in mainstream media, negativity and controversy sells more and receives higher interest. With much of social media attracting the narcissistic side of people, it is little surprise the method that attracts more likes/shares is more prevalent. And as Generation Y becomes more financially independent – we may well see more of this entitled consumer.

These phrases are not just for online retailers, but all retailers. Myer last week announced net profit was 8.7 percent down YoY; their service has come in for heavy criticism in the last few years.

Perhaps the empowered, unengaged and increasingly entitled customer is starting to affect businesses?


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