People’s Shopping Habits—A Moving Target

RETAILERS AND CONSUMERS SOMETIMES HAVE A DISCONNECT, THIS STUDY REVEALS.

Consumers’ expectations about their shopping experiences are shifting faster than ever, finds a new study—and retailers aren’t always keeping up. The study, from Oracle NetSuite in partnership with Wakefield Research and Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, polled 1,200 consumers and 400 executives at $10-million to $100-million retail companies in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Take the example of social media. Almost all (98 percent) of the retail executives thought that engaging with customers on social media was key to building stronger relationships, the study found. Yet only 12 percent of consumers said social media significantly influenced their impression of a brand. Still, the study also showed shifting attitudes: Social does matter more for Generation Z and millennials. And while younger shoppers are digital natives and comfortable with tech, storeowners needn’t worry about the chatbots used by big retail. Customers don’t think much of them, the study revealed.

There’s good news for local brick-and-mortars: Forty-three percent of millennial and Gen Z consumers expect to do more in-store shopping in 2019, and 97 percent of all consumers agree “there is a need to go into a physical store to purchase items.” 

What’s the takeaway? “With nearly every respondent reporting that they value brick-and-mortar stores, now is the time to craft every in-store interaction to keep shoppers coming back,” commented Phibbs, on release of the study. “Contrary to popular belief, millennials want store employees to help them.” The trick is the right interaction: Although 80 percent of retail executives “believe that consumers would feel more welcome if in-store staff interacted with them more,” less than half of consumers agreed, with more than a quarter noting they would feel more annoyed. That’s likely because a robotic “hello” or “can I help you?” won’t cut it. Customers will feel confident when they develop an emotional connection to the brand,” Phibbs said. “This happens when retailers foster positive, helpful in- store interactions.” That’s something small independent dance retailers are positioned to excel at—when they provide the proper example and thoughtful ongoing training to their staff.

What Engages Customers on Instagram

NOT JUST A PRETTY PICTURE

Instagram may be a very visual social media platform, but when your store is doing marketing on Instagram, words count, too, according to Social Media Examiner, a popular online social media resource. It has published a guide to writing Instagram captions that increase engagement. Here are a few tips from it:

Save the words for the caption, not the image. (Images with more than a couple of words tend not to perform as well.)

A zingy sentence can work as a caption, but a short paragraph gives you room to explain what the image is about and why you’re posting it. Say it’s about a sale or an event; this is where you give the details—date, time, special discounts, what’s on sale—and tell how to participate. 

If the caption is a long paragraph, break it into a few short ones. (Pro tip: Don’t use an emoji at the end of a paragraph, or any spaces, or else it will all revert to one long paragraph when you post.) 

Be sure to write a compelling or intriguing first sentence. Since Instagram only shows part of a longer caption, you want to give your customers reasons to click “more.”

Consider including a call to action. What do you want people to do? Is it a shoppable post? Then say “tap to shop.” A promotion on your website? “Click link in our bio.” Pointe shoe care info? Ask them to “tag your dance class friend who also might like this tip.” Or suggest they share the post to their Instagram Stories.

It’s worth paying attention to this part of Instagram posting because, according to Social Media Examiner, “a well-crafted caption with a clear message and possibly a call to action can make a significant impact on your Instagram results.” 

Can You Ask about Salary History?

Here’s where to find out for your city or state.

In recent years a growing roster of state and local governments have passed laws that forbid employers from asking job candidates about their salary history. To help employers keep up to date, HR Dive now publishes a running list of jurisdictions that have passed such laws. “The laws are aimed at ending the cycle of pay discrimination [for women and minorities] and some go further than merely banning pay history questions,” writes HR Dive. “A few also prohibit an employer from relying on an applicant’s pay history to set compensation if discovered or volunteered; others prohibit an employer from taking disciplinary action against employees who discuss pay with coworkers.” The details for each state are laid out by HR Dive, which regularly updates the list as new laws are passed. 

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