What the Modern Shopper Wants From You

I am a modern shopper. I’m demanding and, to put it bluntly, spoiled. I want to buy what I want, on whatever platform or device I want, and get it delivered to my house or to my store of choice in a hurry. I want an abundance of personalized recommendations—more than just, “you might be interested in this.” If I don’t love it, I want the return process to be easy. And if you don’t meet my demands, I’m probably going to shop elsewhere. 

Sound intimidating? Welcome to today’s retail world. As shoppers keep increasing their demands, retailers are working overtime (and using new technologies) to measure up. Let’s take a look at some examples and what they mean to you, the retailer. 

The modern shopper expects a low “barrier to buy.” Amazon one-click checkout was the beginning of this philosophy. Now, I can be browsing Instagram, see an ad for something I want, and purchase it then and there. Pinterest recently rolled out catalogs that you can browse right next to pins, and data shows that Pinterest’s ROI for retailers outshines all other digital channels in terms of efficiency. 

Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) is an expectation, not a luxury. And how well this is managed affects customer satisfaction. Transparency, clarity, and speed are key, and as in the rest of retail, the more seamless and easy the process, the better. And major players like Walmart are making changes in their supply chains to improve the BOPIS experience and get closer to the elusive holy grail of “omnichannel” success. 

Speedy shipping is no longer a novelty. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the “Amazon effect” is the now-expected fast shipping. It started with Amazon Prime two-day shipping, and escalated to one-day, same-day, and in some cases, two hours from order to door with Prime Now. And recently, rivals like Walmart and Target are shortening their delivery windows to keep pace.  

Financing isn’t just for big-ticket items anymore. Have you ever fallen in love with something at a store, but your cash flow just didn’t match up to the price? Well, if you don’t want to rack up a big credit card bill, you may be able to finance that cashmere sweater. ASOS has offered pay-by-installment in the UK since 2016 and recently brought it to the U.S. And TOMS made financing a reality with multiple payment options, including installments or paying 30 days later.

In-store experience still matters. Well-trained, friendly frontline workers are the first impression that many customers will get from your brand. And thanks to trailblazers like Warby Parker, stores are becoming social gathering places, where shoppers make memories instead of just purchasing an item and leaving. 

Easy returns: anyway, anywhere. Here’s one that might not come to mind right away, but it makes a surprisingly big difference: the return process. If that pair of shoes that I impulse bought on a whim didn’t work out, I expect an easy return process. Buy online, return in store? I expect that too. And, I’m more likely to give my business to that company again if the process is easy, fast, and free. 

Satisfying the demanding modern shopper boils down to this two-pronged theme: make it easy, and make it memorable. When every interaction a shopper has with your brand is positive and memorable, they’re more likely to come back. And in today’s intense retail landscape, you need them to keep coming back.