In the ever changing world of retail it is key to focus on the target market and to grow with the demands of this market. Millennials have become the most influential consumer group with an estimated annual buying power of $200 billion. Knowing what is on their minds and why is key to understanding their preferences and purchasing behaviours.
Social media is a huge driver with millennials; through their connection with social media, millennials perception of fashion and apparel brands are being driven almost exclusively by online and social communities and connections rather than traditional push marketing. A staggering 75 percent of this market researches products online, looking to blogs and peer recommendations prior to purchasing and they remain more social-network focused than any other generation. Staying relevant is more than just a catchy marketing campaign. It is now all about the experience and social shopping. Brands are starting to realise that it is more about an immersive experience for this generation and so the challenge is to translate this into an e-commerce environment.
There are some online retailers who question the need for visual designers in an online platform, however this is a huge misconception as studies have shown that effective visual merchandising increases engagement and time spent on websites. It also contributes to an increase in conversion rates and AOV through product placement which in turn increases add-on purchasing. Visual merchandisers for online retailing is much more complex than through the traditional route. Thought needs to be given to communicating and reinforcing the brand and its identity while highlighting a product and telling a story.
The designers need to bring concepts to life so that they inspire and grab the attention of the visitors to convert them into customers. It is no use having high visitor ratings if none of those visitors are buying. Selling online means that all the customer has to guide them is the visual appearance; they cannot pick up the product or get a real sense of scale so the visual appearance of how it is displayed and grouped is of utmost importance. It is not just about having a good product anymore, if it is not endorsed by someone of celebrity stature then you have to try harder to get your product to make an impression and stand out and designers are key to that process.
There is no question that the way we shop is changing. In 2017 the US saw e-commerce sales grow by 16% which is the strongest year on year growth recorded in six years. Convenience is probably the most important factor, with next day delivery as standard. However this is not the end to bricks and mortar retail but there is no doubt that the role of a retail designer is about to become even more challenging in order to stay relevant and to engage and capture this target market.
By Paula Fay Evans, Senior Associate – Interior Design