Author: JoAnn Martin
More consumers are using social media to research their purchases. In fact, more men used Pinterest to look for products and details on holiday sales than women last year. Over Black Friday weekend social media screen time almost doubled for some age groups.
Meanwhile manufacturers are using social media in new ways to connect with consumers directly. This year, direct-to-consumer (DTC) will continue to gain in traction as customers have been trained to demand quicker response times and replenishment of commodity items.
From their social feeds to eCommerce, more customers are buying products right from the source. According to Retail Dive, last year, direct-to-consumer brands captured more market share based on those essential differentiators – product quality, convenience and fast and free shipping. Expect to see that market share increase in 2019.
3. Price optimization is a must with growing competition.
This year pricing is coming into focus as retailers navigate through more transparency within the industry, reshaping customer expectations around agile, localized pricing. New trends including on-demand technologies are creating seismic shifts in consumer expectations and behavior.
Throughout this entire decade, there have been endless fluctuations in retail, including the rise of Uber and Amazon. Think about how both have changed consumer behavior and the impact of surge pricing and connecting demand. We’ve already been seeing disruption across every major retail front, but nothing is becoming bigger for competing in retail than having the right price at the right time.
4. Customer loyalty is all about social good and convenience.
Shoppers want brands that align with their value systems. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), about 60% of consumers would stop purchasing from one of their favorite brands or retailers if they found the business values didn’t match their own. Customers will be drawn to brands that demonstrate sustainable practices, like Everlane and Starbucks who is eliminating plastic straws completely by next year.
Consumers are looking for transparency and brands driven by values, they’re also looking for convenience. Shoppers want their purchases on their terms – expectations and service levels are rising.
5. Shopping channels are blurring like never before.
With unified commerce dominating the marketplace, channels will continue to blur and cease to exist in the eyes of your consumers. Always-on networks will emerge. Ecommerce will need to drive economies of scale and retailers will seek out technologies like automation, AI and ML to minimize inventory movement and localize inventory to customer demand.
Distinct channels of distribution are fading out of existence and in the in-store experience is becoming exactly that, an experience.
Retailers will bring customers in-store by building deep connections and unforgettable experiences like Nike’s new concept stores. Technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will help customers shop from their favorite brands live, like Rebecca Minkoff.
Checkout-free concepts like Amazon Go will become more prevalent – their cashierless store concepts could top $4 billion in sales by 2021. Meanwhile, brands will become more experiential like Nordstrom Local – a new inventory-free approach to retail.
This sea change is marked by the exit of Manhattan’s iconic brick and mortar retailer, Lord & Taylor. The historic retail building is getting a second life as home to WeWork’s shared workspace for technology startups and up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
What are your retail predictions for 2019?
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