We saw a lot of change in 2017. That's one of the biggest trends of 2017 - change. Keep up proactively rather than reactively in the new age of having the customer define the shopping experience, and therefore the survival of retail, with these 4 key trends.
1. Chore-shopping is down, making more room for discovery
With automated order, delivery and purchasing options for necessary products like bread and razorblades - retail is becoming much more vibrant and experiential thanks to the boring shopping taken care of.
Experiential marketing is going to vitally boom very soon, as automated purchases are catching on for everything, even food from companies like Blue Apron. (free plug? you're welcome Blue Apron). Companies need to be able to craft these experiences to be able to drive consumers not just to their brick-and-mortar locations, but to their products in general.
With chores streamlined online, shoppers can finally set out to physical stores not to just buy stuff, but to experience something that they can't anywhere else.
Google's Manhattan pop-up store promoting their new Pixel 2 smartphone incorporated this trend with their giant snow globe where anyone can jump in squares of foam and pose for pictures taken by their new product. They can then try out the phone's camera as they do their holiday shopping.
2018 will be the year where retailers aren't focused mainly on digital discovery, but of the integration of it into mainstream retail. Creating experiences that give customers more control and convenient ways to shop and build loyalty on their own terms will be the new year's industry target.
Say no more? Got it.
Maybe you've seen the new season of Black Mirror, specifically the Metalhead installment which might still be fresh in your head as you're reading this now. But don't worry, we're talking about robots with much smaller capability.
Larger companies like Amazon have already implemented robots to assist in packaging, installing them in about 20% of their fulfillment centers. While we might see robots being used on the shop floor, we expect that they will play a bigger role in not only retail operations, but in the great chat-bot trend.
Talking to customers on messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and LinkedIn have seemed to increase engagement while minimizing cost for many big tech-companies. But even retail stores like Victoria's Secret are using chatbots to showcase their product lines and retrieve shipment information.
"The advantage of chatbots over image-based social media shoping is that most don't take the customer out of the messenger platform to complete the purchase. They also allow for back-and-forth conversation about a purchase, recommendations and further product information which can help with conversion." Cate Trotter, Head of Trends, Insider Trends.
3. Data, data, data
Oh geez - more benefits on using 'big-data' is probably something you're considering skipping right over. But there's reason to believe that they actually aren't just benefits anymore. They're necessities.
Forward-thinking retailers will keep exploring ways to collect and leverage their data in their sales, marketing, customer service, and operations in order to get a bigger market share than their competitors.
Measuring in-store shopping behavior in open systems for example allows you to gain significantly more relevant and actionable insights than from just isolated data silos. "Technological investments will center on shoppers' mobile devices, today's 'first screen', and IoT technologies that further develop the smart store and deliver deeper analytics of in-store shopping behavior." Shelley E. Kohan, VP of Retail Consulting.
4. Brick-and-mortar shops will... flourish?
With each company store that closed in 2017, 2.7 companies opened stores acording to the National Retail Federation. The same occurred in the U.K. - more shops opened than were closed in the first quarter of 2017.
Well-funded retailers and department stores will adjust and survive in 2018 - however with some slimming down and concentrating on location might be strategically necessary. Attracting customers will be paramount, incorporating UX in their shops along with their knowledge of their craft, appealing brand, and added innovations that grab consumers attention.
Update your brand to survive in 2018, there are plenty of tools out there for your strategy and there's even more information out there to make you confident in your decisions.