The British Retail Consortium (BRC) recently predicted a “challenging” 2024 for retailers, following a lacklustre Christmas period, the possibility of higher business rates being introduced, and potential disruptions to shipments via the Red Sea.
With the prediction that “cautious consumers are battening down the hatches” (Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG), spending across many types of products and services is likely to continue to be lower than we’ve seen previously, as customers become more careful regarding what they spend their money on.
What can retailers do to get the most out of their businesses over the coming year? To answer that question, we have to look at recent spending habits, consumer trust, and the part digital marketing can play in filling the gaps. Read on to find out more…
Recent spending habits
As households across the UK tighten their belts and focus on being able to afford “the essentials”, clear patterns emerged during the Christmas period:
- Clothing and department stores saw a 2% and 0.2% drop in sales respectively
- Spending on entertainment rose 12.3%
- Spending on travel increased by 14.1%
- Music, video and games sales increased by 7%
While times are hard, it looks like consumers are choosing to spend money on home entertainment and travel, with fashion taking a slight backstep. If the BRC is to be believed, the message is clear: 2024 will be a year where consumers may only buy your product if they absolutely need (or want) to.
What does that mean for marketing your products and services? To work that out, we need to look at recent data on consumer trust.
Consumer trust is low
As well as battling against a poor economic climate, retailers will also need to be conscious of consumer trust during 2024. According to Accenture, 37% of people worldwide think that companies are prioritising profits over customers, with the following data showing the leading reasons people feel less valued:
- 47% – poor customer services
- 41% – ignored feedback
- 37% – declining product quality
- 25% – low-quality packaging
Furthermore, the same research shows the extent to which people think certain industries have their best interests at heart:
- 14% – favourite tech brand
- 15% – favourite fashion/beauty brand
- 13% – electricity supplier
- 15% – frequently used travel supplier
- 22% – main bank/insurance provider
- 22% – grocery retailers
With such low trust across a range of industries and feeling less valued in several ways, getting consumers to spend their hard-earned cash could be an uphill battle for many retailers during 2024. However, there are a few simple ways you can position your business to make your products/services feel like a “must-have” rather than a choice.
These tactics will work particularly well for ecommerce websites, but some can be adapted to service websites too.
How to get the most out of your website
Embrace multiple marketing channels to connect with people at all stages of the customer journey
The best way to connect with your customers is to make sure you’re reaching them in a variety of places, throughout their customer journey. Not every customer who interacts with your brand is ready to convert there and then, so your marketing strategy shouldn’t try to reflect that.
By truly understanding when, where, why and how customers move through their purchase journey – from awareness, through consideration and into conversion – and the information they need at that moment, you can get customers to start thinking of your service/product as a “must have” rather than a “want”.
With customer trust proving to be on the low side across a number of industries, working on building genuine trust in your target audience is a surefire way to move your business from a choice to a no-brainer.
Make sure your site is fully secure, add an SSL certificate and make sure payments are protected. Use the best quality images you can and don’t forget to include the benefits of your products/services within their descriptions. Finally, add social proof to your site in the form of reviews and ratings.
Attract the right people
Marketing isn’t about trying to achieve those big number vanity metrics (such as impressions and sessions) any more. In the modern landscape, it’s about achieving conversions. It’s much more effective to base your marketing around lower volume search terms that align with the search intent of your target audience, than to target the highest volume search terms in your industry and just hope for the best.
By taking a moment to understand your customers and their needs, you’ll be able to plan out a much more effective marketing strategy.
Tackle abandoned baskets
You’ve done all the hard work and attracted the right people to your online store. They’ve even added products to their basket. But they haven’t fully checked out, and a potential sale is now at risk.
According to worldwide research performed by Statista in 2022, a staggering 88.05% of online baskets are abandoned before checkout, offering a prime opportunity for further understanding of this part of the customer journey. There are many possible solutions, including:
- Investigate the drop-off point for visitors. They may be put off by something in the checkout process (such as delivery costs), which you can review.
- Adopt remarketing campaigns to remind visitors they put a basket together but didn’t check out
- If possible, use email marketing to directly contact visitors and remind them they have items in their basket
Make it easy to check out
This piece of advice couples well with the information above. Much like when we visit a physical shop, we expect the checkout process on an online shop to be as simple as possible. Keep your checkout funnel to the minimum length possible, let people know exactly where they are in the process and only gather the information you need to make the sale.
For instance: Having a mandatory sign-up to complete a checkout process is great for you as a business owner, but is it good for your customer? When was the last time you went into a physical shop and had to set up an account to buy something?
Make sure you offer great customer service
The stats above illustrate this point perfectly: 47% of consumers felt less valued due to poor customer service. It goes a little further than that, though, with 86% of customers saying they would be willing to pay a little more for great customer service.
When someone has chosen to spend money on your product/service, it’s important to make sure their entire experience is positive. Great customer service is what protects your reputation if something doesn’t go to plan. Instead of risking negative reviews or negative word-of-mouth sentiment, great customer service helps to confirm that you were the correct choice all along.
Get it right, and you boost your reputation, increase trust in your brand, create brand ambassadors and secure vital social proof to encourage more people to work with you.
Overcome the challenge
As you can see, by combining the best of marketing tactics and putting your customers at the forefront of your mind, there’s no reason you can’t make 2024 less challenging for yourself and build a fantastic reputation ready for when customer trust and desire to spend improves again.