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3 trends in retail you must know to attract on-the-go consumers

Despite rising inflation and gas price fluctuations, consumers remain optimistic and eager to shop. For retailers, revenue goals hinge on their ability to steer in-transit consumers to their doorsteps, elevating physical stores as key touchpoints in the omnichannel customer journey.

Earlier this year, Retail Dive conducted a survey of retail brand and agency leaders on behalf of Waze, pairing findings with Waze navigation insights and other industry data to identify ways retailers can drive in-store revenue. Those insights, captured in a report titled “3 Insights Retailers Can Use to Meet Shoppers Where They’re Going,” include three takeaways for turning commuters into customers.

When it comes to retail, in-person shopping provides outsized instant gratification.

Nothing replaces the feeling of holding a wishlist purchase in your hands and enjoying a coveted item right away. For all the convenience e-commerce can offer, it can’t match the instant warm-fuzzies that follow an in-person purchase.

Retailers know it, too. Surveyed retail leaders told Retail Dive they “agree or strongly agree” on three points: in-person retailers have the ability to deliver instant gratification to customers (88%), in-store shopping provides enhanced customer interactions (79%) and in-person shopping experiences increase customer lifetime value (78%).1

Monetizing the trend

Six in ten shoppers favor brands that have a physical location, and nearly eight in ten go to a store for items they want to enjoy immediately.2 Following a positive experience, 82% of shoppers return and 64% spend more each time they visit.3 Rather than pitting online and physical stores as rivals, retailers should recognize consumers now crave a blend of physical and digital experiences that work together to deliver speed, ease and personalization.

To that end, retailers can make searching for items, product trials and transactions easier with (1) strong in-store connectivity, (2) staff trained to answer common questions about popular products — along with price-match scenarios on the sales floor — and (3) optimized point-of-sale experiences when consumers are ready for purchase.

Consumers look to stores to satisfy hobby needs and step out in style.

It’s not just general retail that’s seeing a resurgence. Waze navigations from more than 140 million monthly active users show trips to bookstores (+16.5%), personal care retailers (+15.5%), music stores (+10.4%) and jewelry stores (+5.9%) all saw a significant uptick in Q1 2022, compared to a year earlier.4 This demonstrates consumers have both the financial means and leisure time — despite recent economic fluctuations — to buy items beyond vital necessities at brick-and-mortar retailers.

Retailers can expect that trend to continue: Looking ahead, researchers project a 3% growth in holiday retail sales compared to 2021, with the majority of dollars spent in-store.5 Half of U.S. shoppers say they plan to start shopping earlier for the holidays, consistent with Waze retail navigation trends during pivotal holiday periods.6,7

Monetizing the trend

Retailers can capitalize on the surging preference for in-store shopping by reaching consumers behind the wheel when they’re deciding where to spend their dollars. To that end, testing out-of-home and in-car advertising engagements with commuters is a worthy investment.

“The data shows consumers have returned to in-person shopping en masse,” says Liz Franz, Head of Industry for Retail at Waze. “That makes this the perfect time to ensure you’re reaching on-the-go shoppers in decision-making moments. In fact, nearly four in five retail brand and agency leaders told us in-car advertising is either effective or very effective for driving in-store traffic.”

Brick-and-mortar is still in the driver’s seat — and the future is frictionless.

Though e-commerce has been a focus for retailers in the last couple of years, it drives a small fraction of sales. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce accounted for 13.2% of total retail purchases in 2021, slipping from 13.6% in 2020.8

Retailer feedback captured in the aforementioned report co-authored by Waze and Retail Dive reflects this reality, showing retailers are largely prioritizing in-store activities in the next 12 months. To that end, 73% of respondents say increasing in-store purchases is a critical or high priority and 72% say increasing in-person visits to physical stores is a critical or high priority.

Monetizing the trend

Retailers would be smart to look for ways to eliminate friction from in-store experiences, especially as consumer patience for inefficiencies shrinks.9 One example is optimizing the buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) experience, favored by 59% of consumers, according to Shopify.10 It’s worth noting that 47% of consumers who choose BOPIS say they also buy additional items once at the store.11

With that in mind, retailers can reduce friction and drive spend at the same time by creating designated spaces for BOPIS in the store while also strategically positioning upsell opportunities nearby. Similarly, retailers and consumers can both benefit from technology or procedures that alert staff to customer arrivals, such as app location tracking, texting services, curbside cameras or concierges.

“There’s no doubt retail’s future is frictionless,” Franz says. “Establishing a digital marketing strategy that considers how consumers are fluidly moving from screen to store is vital to both short- and long-term success in the space.”

Looking to fuel in-store revenue? Each month, more than 140 million consumers are driving by or searching for Waze businesses like yours. Waze Ads helps you become a part of their journey. Access navigation trend data and glean from exclusive insights in the full report by Waze and Retail Dive.

1. studioID survey commissioned by Waze, April 2022.
2. “Shopping Tracker.” Google/Ipsos, December 2017, URL. Accessed 27 May 2022.
3. “Your In-Store Customer Experience and Bottom Lines Are Linked.” Total Retail, 17 November 2021, URL. Accessed 27 May 2022.
4. “Category Trends.” Waze, Accessed 27 May 2022, URL, 2022.
5. Waze internal data, July 2022.
6. “2022 Retail Marketing Guide: Be ready for the holidays and seasonal shopping moments.” Google, March 2022, URL. Accessed 22 July 2022.
7. Waze internal data, 2019–2021.
8. U.S. Census Bureau News, 19 May 2022, URL. Accessed 27 May 2022.
9. “Frictionless ‘stores of the future’ will land and expand.” eMarketer, 18 March 2021, URL. Accessed 22 July 2022.
10. “What is Buy Online, Pick-Up In Store (BOPIS) in Retail?” Shopify, 16 February 2022, URL. Accessed 22 July 2022.
11. “New Study Shows Consumers Taking Digital Habits In-Store.” PYMNTS.com, 18 April 2022, URL. Accessed 22 July 2022.

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