How your retail business could evolve

How your retail business could evolve

Retail – Workplace January 2018

Space Race

The retail environment is changing rapidly but the success of physical stores will always come back to product choice, location and service/experience.

US marketing expert and author Bryan Pearson has identified 10 retail trends, in an article originally appearing in Forbes, to look out for in 2018. While some apply mainly to large scale retailers, there are some good insights for smaller operators, too.

Pop-in-path retail – retailers need to be super-proactive and almost second-guess customers’ needs and wants. Touchscreen ordering in food stores, pop-up kiosks with the latest stock in “can’t miss” locations, “quick hit” stands placed near pay counters, and different entrances/exits to stores for grab-and-go shoppers versus time-rich customers.

Mail with scale – the delivery side of the service equation for those with online channels will become even more important. Retailers will need to choose their delivery partners carefully in order not to “over promise and under-deliver”. Communication systems will need to be top-notch, too.

Price will gain weight – the trend today for aggressive discounting across all arms of the retail sector has created an expectation within customers – 40% discount today; 60% off next week? Retailers need to think carefully about the price-value equation as long-term dependence on discounting can undermine brands and erode customer confidence.

Bricks-and-data – successful retail will depend largely on having omni-channels to cater for the different buying personalities that individual shoppers have and satisfy their desire for relevance, convenience and value. Communicating value will be necessary at every touch point.

Shop, dine, live – as more people opt to live in apartments either in the centre of cities or in the city-fringe suburbs close to transport hubs, the opportunities for relevant retail options close to those homes expands. Baby boomers and millennials will be living side-by-side in apartment complexes so smart retailers will look to optimise the opportunities right on their doorstep.

Department, deconstructed – traditional department stores will continue to face challenges in remaining relevant in a retail environment that is saturated with choice. Gaining and maintaining commitment from shoppers will be central to the survival of the modern department store.

Living labs – artificial intelligence, augmented reality and other technologies, will continue to gain importance on the retail environment. While the big retail players are throwing mega-bucks at innovation labs and hubs in Silicon Valley, smaller retailers are teaming up with tech startups to assist them in keeping a competitive edge.

Limited limitless offers – crazy-low prices for bulk buys with limited time to snap up a deal are seen as a way to get loyalty from customers while getting access to their membership data. Not for every retailer, but it’s been an emerging trend in the US.

Pain-point resolutions – subscription deals for loo paper, ready-to-assemble sofas requiring no tools, pop-up mattresses and other convenience items are being designed and promoted to resolve overlooked pain points rather than presumed shopper needs.

Accountable labels – there’s far greater transparency required by food producers, suppliers and manufacturers as customers insist on full and thorough labelling of the foodstuffs they are purchasing and consuming.

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