With January comes the opportunity to refocus and set goals for the year ahead – even more so when this coincides with the start of a new decade.

For independent retail brands, delivering a better experience to customers will be front and centre in 2020 and beyond. The pressure remains fierce for brands to ensure they are one step ahead at outshining their competition and demonstrating a deep understanding of their customers through hyper personalised interactions every stage of the journey.

With that in mind, we’ve looked at how independent brands can hit the mark when it comes to the customer experience in 2020.

Make yourself useful

Whilst consumers are in the lucky position of being spoilt for choice in the retail environment, the always connected and ever-busy customer can also be left feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to making purchase decisions.

Whilst consumers are going to engage with the brands that are relevant to them at that moment and demonstrate a rich understanding of them, they are also in search of ways to make their lives easier. For independent brands, being considered useful in the eyes of the consumer can be hugely beneficial to growing a successful relationship. Our recent study revealed that almost three quarters of consumers like it when brands remind them via email that contracts or subscriptions are coming to an end. In a similar vein, we discovered that 63 percent of consumers want more brands to give them the option of receiving a notification when an item that is out of stock becomes available again at their local store.

These are just two examples of how smaller retail brands can provide convenience to the customer, and ultimately give them one less thing to think about. 

Don’t neglect the opportunities to personalise

No matter what the brand or product, there is no longer space for delivering a generic experience to a customer. One of the main reasons a consumer might opt for shopping with an independent brand over a larger, more established store is due to the expectations that they will receive a better experience.

A Pure360 study found that 43% of shoppers would consider buying from an independent over a larger retailer to feel treated like a valued customer rather than just a number. Smaller brands should remain mindful of this in 2020, and recognise that they can serve a real purpose in the lives of the consumer and the retail experience they provide to them.

Whether it’s through the exemplary customer service, making product recommendations that are hyper relevant for that individual or sharing important information about a customer’s local store, there are now endless ways to make an experience more memorable.

Consider how Brexit might impact customer behaviour

The Brexit deadline might have moved on more than once occasion during 2019, but it looks as though the UK will now be leaving the EU on January 31. For retail brands of all sizes, consideration must be given to how this could impact consumer behaviour so they can adapt quickly and avoid potentially negative consequences.

We found that for almost a third of consumers, there is an expectation for brands to make the country of origin clearer for the items they are buying – particularly online – so they avoid paying additional taxes on their purchases. Delivery times are another consideration for consumers, with a quarter wanting clarity around the country of origin when they are making purchases after Brexit.

For homegrown independent brands, Brexit could actually create a real opportunity to build deeper relationships with existing and new customers. Putting transparency at the heart customer experience will be critical, so that consumers have clarity around areas like taxes and delivery times, and have the confidence to make a purchase.

As the new year begins, it brings opportunities for small, independent retailers to refresh their marketing strategies to ensure customers are treated to the best possible experience in 2020. From finding new ways to deliver more personalised interactions to adapting to the possible impacts of Brexit, independent brands that can create experiences that are relevant and contextual to customers, their behaviour and the world around them will reap the rewards in the months ahead.

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