How Will Digital Trends Change Buyers’ Habits?

The digital world is changing daily and so are your customers because of it. Some retailers in more urban areas of the country may notice their customers’ shopping and buying habits changing more quickly than those in the rural areas. Eventually though, no matter where your store is located, you will notice the changes taking place in your customers’ buying habits.

At the end of the day, customers are customers and they will still need and want to buy fishing tackle. The shift in their buying behavior though will dictate how they buy, where they buy and what they buy. A successful retailer will not only stay informed about these shifts, but also will embrace them and attempt to stay up to date with them.

One fallacy many believe within the fishing retail sector is that your customers will not adopt these new practices of the modern day digital world. If you believe that is true, then pray your customers live a very long life, because the next generations of customers are accepting these trends and are helping to mold them.

Here are five trends that are changing in the retail world. How many of them are you adapting to?

Straight from the horse’s mouth
More consumers are looking for information from the manufacturer, and the manufacturers are delivering. With social media a household term and usage of the various social media platforms growing daily, manufacturers are interacting more with consumers. Manufacturers are showcasing their new products, product redesigns, and how to use their products on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ every day. They are having their pro staff members blog more and are harnessing the power of YouTube to show their products off and pre-sell their products to consumers before they even enter your store.

Not that many years ago, your store was the go-to place for new product information; how to fish a new lure, or what new advances there were in the electronics world. That has changed. More retailers are reporting that customers now come in with a particular item in mind and are pre-sold on the idea of buying it. They will look to you to confirm their decision. You can sway their decision to another product, but be prepared to have facts as you will be going against what they already believe is something they need.

How many of these posts by manufacturers are you sharing with your customers? You can easily share them through the same social media sites that the manufacturers are using. While reposting or re-tweeting them will educate your current customers, it can also bring you more followers. When followers of a certain product line see who else has shared this information, they will see your store’s name, and be able to see your store’s site. While this is a more passive method of exposing potential customers to your social media page and your store, it is still a way many retailers add followers every day.

The proof is in the pudding
While manufacturers are marketing directly to consumers, consumers are also researching more and weighing their decisions on what to purchase by what other users have to say about the products, or the company. This is why more retail sites make their product reviews, product ratings and customer service reviews available on their sites. Many are also pulling in the feedback or comments their customers are posting on their social media pages to their sites to help them sell themselves or their products.

Consumers are not only reading these reviews, but are basing more of their buying decisions on them. This is nothing new to the retail world – the thought process of the consumer believing if someone else has had success with a certain product or a company then I should as well, is as old as time. The change is that this information in now all over the Internet and is being consumed at one of the highest rates in history. Are you sharing your customers’ feedback on social media or from your site with your customers? They want the information, and with positive feedback posted by other customers you will see an increase in new customers.

Making the average Joe a pro
In the same light as reading what another customer’s feedback is, more retailers and manufacturers are showcasing the every-day angler using their products and having success with it. Go on Facebook or Twitter and you will see this tactic being used daily. The customer being showcased is receiving nothing more than their fifteen seconds of fame; the manufacturer or retail store though is getting a walking billboard for their products. That user will tell everyone they know and share it with everyone they can socially to show off their newfound fame. Every time one of their friends comments or likes or favorites the posting, a new list of customers or potential customers are introduced to the product.

If you do not have your own line of products, you can still deploy this tactic. A common way to do this is to have your customers send in photos of them fishing and having fun after they’ve shopped at your store. Create a digital version of the old bragging board many of you have had deployed in your store for years. Showcase their photos on your site and social media outlets and let your customers enjoy some fame and spread the word about your store. You can take this one step further by having a digital frame in your store to showcase these same photos. It will cycle through your customer’s photos and grab the attention of other customers while they shop. When they ask how to get their photos on your digital frame you can then suggest they submit them through their social media site of choice.

Customizing their online experience
More retailers and Internet sites in general are using customers’ shopping trends and browsing habits to customize what is served up to them while online. Retailers are tapping in to these browsing habits through web cookies. Web cookies are fat-free and are guaranteed not to add any inches to your waistline. They are, however, a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while a user is browsing a website. Over time, a user’s likes and interests are easy to see as their browsing habits and history builds. Retail sites use this data to not only serve up ads that they feel will interest the consumer, but also showcase products that are similar to ones they are already browsing.

Many of you already perform this same tactic in your stores. A customer comes in looking for topwater lures for bass; you show him or her all of your topwater baits and explain the benefits of each one. You also know that right now the local bass are hitting soft plastic creature baits, and you know this customer has a love for watermelon with red flake lures. Naturally you will show him or her soft plastic creature baits in watermelon with red flakes and explain that if they are going fishing now, these are the lures to have. Essentially it is the same concept that is used online. You need to look at your site and see if you are employing these same tactics to ensure you are maximizing your time with customers online.

Paying electronically
A growing trend that is almost common practice in the retail world is that more customers are paying with debit cards, credit cards or even with PayPal than they are with true currency. This is a trend that has exploded and gained ground because of online shopping and one that will continue to grow. If you are not accepting credit cards on your site, how are you able to sell through your site? What about in your store – are you accepting plastic there? What about PayPal? PayPal was originally an eBay product that is in more stores and more websites every day. Customers have shown that they prefer to have multiple methods of paying electronically; you as a retailer need to assess the different methods and make as many available to your customers as you can, as long as they all make financial sense to your business.

Here are five ways the digital world will continue to change how customers shop and how they make decisions. As a retailer you need to identify how many of these five trends you can incorporate into your store and your digital world. If you already incorporate some of these tactics into your store, how are they working for you? Are you seeing other trends with your customers? Share your thoughts and experiences with us all on our Facebook page and in our LinkedIn group. The digital trends are changing daily. Are you?