As detailed in PSFK & Microsoft's 2020 Retail Trends Playbook, these four key trends help explain the evolution of shopper expectations today and how brands can meet them

Today’s shoppers prioritize exceptional customer experience. They’re willing to provide their data to companies, but expect a higher quality experience in return. For retailers and their brands, this means delivering on the promise of personalization, expert service, always-available inventory and seamless cross-channel shopping.

By enabling differentiated shopping journeys, customers can also feel that their relationships with brands and retailers is authentic. PSFK’s Retail Trends Playbook 2020, made in partnership with Microsoft, explores the demand for premier customer experience. Here are four key trends drawn from the report that highlight how shopping experiences are evolving for today's consumers:

Sharing Data In Exchange For Better Experiences
In a rapidly expanding digital market, data is being shared at a rate faster than consumers can control. As a result, online shoppers have grown weary of sharing personal information. However, 63% of U.S. consumers say they’d share more information with a company that offers a great experience, demonstrating interest in personalized recommendations and benefits like automatic credits, coupons, loyalty points and other exclusive deals.

Accordingly, leading retailers are engaging in transparent and mutually beneficial practices surrounding shared data that encourages consumers to provide information. “Consumers are willing to share data with brands if they feel that the outcome will be a better product or experience. What’s most important is that brands first understand precisely what kind of information they need to deliver these consumer expectations and then be sure to let the community know that their feedback is furthering the evolution of the brand.”—Doug Stephens, Retail Futurist

Personalization At Every Stage
Although ecommerce has made retail more efficient and accessible, it has depersonalized the shopping experience as a result. As we’ve transitioned to a consumer-controlled industry, shoppers are demanding a more personalized, customizable experience in exchange for their loyalty and business.

In fact, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember and provide relevant offers and recommendations, while 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty. Overall, online and in-store, customers want to feel unique, recognized and remembered, something retailers are increasingly moving to deliver.

Knowledge On-Demand Staff For Service & Support
Part of ensuring a great customer experience is providing the necessary information to aid them in making their decision—80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.

This means hiring store associates both in-store and online that are available during every stage of the customer’s journey and equipped with high-quality training on the products being sold, as 79% of consumers say being able to engage with knowledgeable store associates is “important” or “very important.” Not only does this create a better immediate experience for the customer, but it also increases the likelihood of post-purchase satisfaction.

Prioritize (The Right) Product Availability
Digital marketplaces have enabled brands to expand their inventory without the constrictions that come with a physical space, which helps meet consumer demand: 68% of Gen Zers surveyed said a wide choice of products was the most important factor when choosing where to shop.

While wider inventories are a positive advancement, retailers must engage it in a purposeful way, making sure to prioritize reliably popular products among new variety, as while 29% of global respondents said variety of products was most important to them, 34% of global respondents say having the right product in stock was key.

The Retail Trends Playbook 2020 is a report by business intelligence platform PSFK in partnership with Microsoft that presents key trends, best-in-class examples and strategies for executing intelligent retail with the aid of data-driven technologies. Download the full free report here.

Lead image: stock photos from Pammy Studio/Shutterstock