Trending in #2015

From smart shelves to new fulfillment options, here's what the pundits predict will be big in shopper marketing.

Tech is becoming an unignorable part of the path to purchase – whether consumers are price-comparing TVs or sifting through personalized deals in their inboxes. And so, it came as no surprise to us that when we reached out to industry pundits to weigh-in on what will be hot in shopper marketing and retail in 2015, tech was a key factor behind many of the predictions.

Many of these trends have been on our radar for a while now, but our contributors expect them to gain even more momentum, with 2015 being the year some of them really take flight.

Digital and physical integration

Nurun Toronto’s VP strategy Audrey Carr welcomes the demise of those “clunky and awkward QR codes” as she anticipates the closer integration of the digital realm with the bricks-and-mortar world. “The dissolution of the barriers between content marketing, e-commerce, m-commerce and physical retail will lead to a more effortless transition between physical and digital retail,” she predicts. “From adaptive digital window displays, to digitally-enabled smart shelves, shoppers will be able to access rich product content, ratings and reviews, and an endless aisle of expanded product choices.”

More quick and easy fulfillment options

With “buy online, pick-up in-store” services from retailers like Canadian Tire and Best Buy, Walmart’s Grab&Go lockers and Loblaw’s Click & Collect pilot program underway, Carr says to expect more retailers to dip their toes in the space, trying delivery and pick-up systems that increase speed and convenience.

Dialled-up engagement

Maple Leaf Foods’ director of strategic planning Nola Martin and D’Arcy Finley, VP integrated marketing, expect gamification and personalization to increasingly play a role in consumers’ grocery shopping. More and more brands will aim to break through and enhance consumers’ lives with solutions that are proactive, customized and entertaining, they predict. “Shoppers are continuously searching for inspired meals and snacks; it’s our opportunity to inject more relevant and enjoyable ideas into their experience.”

Meanwhile, Matthew Diamond, SVP Hunter Straker Canada, who worked with the agency’s strategy team on their predictions, points out how developing a steady brand experience that spans numerous touchpoints is on more retailers’ and brands’ radars and will continue to gain momentum next year. In-store sampling and product demos are out; social sharing is key, they say. “Retailers are developing engaging, interactive in-store experiences that are designed to entertain, educate and not only drive conversion but entice consumers to share these moments with their social networks and extend the brand experiences out post-shop.” (Think Metro’s surprise to shoppers when circus performers disguised as staff members started to entertain them with stunts.)

Smart targeting

More brands will aim to reach consumers on their mobile devices with personalized offers by leveraging their whereabouts and data, both Carr and the Hunter Straker folks anticipate.

“The escalation of in-store beacon technology combined with personalized data will drive the growth of context-aware and predictive retail apps that deliver just the right information or offer, in the right place, at the best moment,” predicts Carr, noting more apps to improve shopping with features such as way-finding and location-based offers will emerge.

No cash, no problem!

Apps from credit card cos, banks and brands like Starbucks and Apple are enabling consumers to make purchases with their smartphones, note Diamond and the Hunter Straker folks. “The trend is growing, and those retailers who are not on board fear being left behind just like the $2 bill.”

Similarly, as retailers increasingly develop their own unique “currency” and use it to drive loyalty, boost purchase size and interact with shoppers, those who don’t jump aboard risk missed opportunities, they predict. “Having their own currency and enabling their consumers to purchase their orders with points allows them to create a two-way dialogue with their consumers, offering a more personalized and customized experience, as well as driving loyalty in a meaningful way,” they note, pointing to Loblaw’s PC Plus points program.

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