Better product launches, lasting profits: 5 shifts for greater reach and revenue #SmallBiz - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Monday, April 19, 2021

Better product launches, lasting profits: 5 shifts for greater reach and revenue #SmallBiz

We’ve entered a new era in shopping expectations and experiences. Between the pandemic, shifting priorities and a deep craving for instant gratification, today’s shoppers make buying decisions in ways that render many pre-covid “best practices” irrelevant and ineffective.

Reasonably, as shoppers behave in new ways, so must retailers. The good news: Market changes spell big opportunities for merchants to stand out, sway audiences, and fuel profits. To that end, industry data points to five moves that will help retailers turn emerging challenges into competitive advantages — particularly when launching new products or wooing first-time shoppers.

1. Heed Gen Z’s buying power

Gen Z shoppers now account for 40% of all global consumers, making them the largest customer cohort in the world. “If merchants haven’t already adapted their product launch strategies for this younger generation of shoppers, they should start doing so immediately,” admonishes Melissa Davis, Afterpay’s Head of North America, an installment payment platform that enables customers to pay for retail purchases after receiving them.

Davis isn’t alone in that claim. Researchers from Accenture, McKinsey, and more identify Gen Z as a global consumer force whose habits will shape the future of retail. 

“The overall ecosystem in which Gen Zs are buying is fundamentally different,” reports Bo

Finneman, a partner at McKinsey, in a recent episode of the McKinsey Podcast. Rising interest in brands with a conscience, peer input, anywhere/anytime access, greater convenience and speed are some of the Gen Z traits representing opportunities for astute merchants. “We need to deeply understand the seismic shifts happening in the consumer base and what’s driving decision making, because it’s not marginal,” adds Finneman.

2. Social-first campaigns reap big rewards

Like Millennials before them, Gen Zs live and breathe social media. At the same time, social platforms have a significantly greater impact on Gen Z purchasing behaviors than it does on previous generations, reports Accenture. According to Instagram, 84% of users want to discover new products on their platform, and emerging channels like TikTok are quickly becoming shopping destinations. 

Last fall, Crocs partnered with Afterpay for its “Croctober” campaign, dropping limited edition merchandise on TikTok. “Corresponding videos received 6.8 billion views during the campaign, resulting in an 18.5% engagement rate,” shares Davis. 

It’s worth noting Gen Zs are impulsive shoppers, adds Accenture. Compared to older Millennials, nearly 60% more say they made a purchase on a whim or because they randomly saw an item they liked — hence the importance of facilitating purchasing when and where that impulse hits. 

The takeaway? “With younger shoppers so fully immersed on social media, product launches and campaigns should be social first,” Davis advises. 

3. Enabling “everywhere” shopping experiences

While digital strategies continue to be important, it’s critical for merchants to enable omnichannel experiences. Recent Afterpay data shows 81% of Gen Z consumers still prefer to shop in stores and 73% like to discover new products in person. 

Here’s where things get interesting: Young shoppers often use numerous channels at the same time, with 84% using their smartphones to look up reviews, product details, coupons and more while shopping in-store, reports Google. This dynamic makes it critical for experiences to be cohesive.

In the past, many retailers led with a digital or retail-first approach for new merchandize or exclusive launches. While that may have been a “best practice” at one time, today’s shoppers expect seamless experiences across channels to cater to individual preferences. “This can be achieved by matching inventory across online and physical retail, and by offering Buy Online, Pick Up In Store,” says Davis. 

Last year, Afterpay launched in-store functionality to help merchants bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping. “We’ve found that Afterpay omnichannel shoppers shop 48% more frequently than online-only shoppers and spend 72% more,” Davis explains. “By offering flexible payment options in the physical store, the retailer allows consumers to use the service across channels, giving them more opportunity to engage in flexible, responsible spending — anytime, anywhere.”

Shoppable social media posts and Buy Online, Pick Up In Store/Curbside are other omnichannel strategies poised to become the norm in a post-pandemic market.

4. More payment options = more spend

Budget-conscious and debt-averse, younger shoppers seek to balance instant gratification with responsible budgeting. It’s why subscriptions have risen in popularity, as have Buy Now, Pay Later solutions that help buyers manage finances without incurring credit card debt or foregoing the goods they crave.

Merchants offering a Buy Now, Pay Later solution report big advantages, both for product launches and recurring conversions. Benefits include an increase in average order value, increase in basket size, and fewer returns — all high contributors to a profitable campaign.

It comes down to choices: If consumers have more options in how and when they pay, they’re more likely to pull the trigger, hand over their debit cards, and come back for more. 

5. Leveraging partner strengths

One of the most effective ways of growing a merchant’s reach, audience and service capabilities is joining forces with a partner who has them in spades. “Consider partnering with third-party companies to enhance the customer experience,” advises Accenture. Using partner strengths to boost convenience, choices and speedy fulfillment will go a long way toward creating the kinds of experiences Gen Zs want to share and repeat.

For merchants partnering with Afterpay, the company’s Shop Directory is a way to reach new customers looking for merchants where Afterpay is accepted. This past December, the directory sent 45 million referrals to partner retailers globally. “It’s become a valuable tool for both brand and product discovery between our merchant partners and customers,” says Davis.

Putting it all together: Building consumer-first brands

Retail experts have long talked about customer centricity, though the common term isn’t necessarily common practice. Though not a new concept, putting customers first is increasingly crucial to winning their hearts and wallets in the months ahead. 

“Merchants who have a customer-first mindset and are authentic in their approach are thriving with shoppers,” notes Davis: “They prioritize meeting customers where they are, which means showing up on social media, rewarding shopping behaviors, and speaking to their audience in a way that feels real while creating an easy, seamless experience.”

All things considered, wooing new shoppers and sustaining profits in the next normal comes down to one thing: enabling consumers to shop in any manner they choose.

via by , Khareem Sudlow