The start of a new year routinely has retailers guessing into the future, trying to catch a glimpse of the year's upcoming retail trends. As a retailer, you want to get off to the strongest possible start. That requires insight into what customers will want and how you can deliver it. So let’s see what trends are emerging for 2017. And how you might make the most of them to boost sales and customer loyalty.
Shopify asked a group of retail experts about their predictions for the coming year. The result? “Our experts talked about data, convenience, personalization, mobile, and digital. While the answers varied, there was one major recurring theme: Retailers and consumers are getting smarter.”
Ah, yes, but you know the old maxim: it’s not what you know but how you use it.
Not surprisingly, technology fuels many predictions
Retailers will create more “experiential” environments that feel welcoming and comfortable. Toward this end, stores will blend traditional merchandising and entertainment in what VendHQ calls “retailtainment.” Along with non-traditional partnerships such as wine bars within boutiques, these elements will provide a richer, more comfortable or fun “lifestyle” shopping experience.
Retailers of all sizes will offer technology-based innovations throughout the store. These will assist product selection by giving customers greater opportunity to interact with products and envision using them. That’s likely to include augmented reality that enables customers to experience products virtually. Or smart fitting rooms. Or even glass touchscreens incorporated into storefront windows.
Push-button shopping will increase for ordering, payment, and delivery. Social media-based buttons will follow Instagram’s lead, allowing users to click a photo to purchase or get more product information.
And now that mobile devices are ubiquitous, they will be more broadly integrated into all aspects of the shopping experience.
Therefore, gathering and analyzing customer data will be even more crucial. Retailers will use the information to:
- Create personally-targeted marketing content that draws shoppers into stores
- Drive in-store tools such as beacons that send individualized offers to shoppers’ mobile devices
- Enhance back-end planning and inventory management
Shopping channels become one “store”
The lines between online and in-store shopping will disappear. To remain competitive, retailers must offer a seamless, shop-your-way experience, because 2017 shoppers will carry out their purchasing journeys across multiple types of devices and channels. Some experts suggest even the word “omnichannel” will become superfluous.
Small, more specialized stores
Compact size and a defined merchandise range save shoppers time and facilitate more personalized service. Larger operations are creating “stores within stores” to accommodate this niche atmosphere.
You can’t expect to incorporate every emerging trend into your planning and merchandising execution. Nor do you want to. The key to success is focusing on those elements that are most relevant to your type of store and most meaningful for your customers.
In the words of the National Retail Federation, “Innovation is imperative in today’s 'what’s next' climate. That doesn’t necessarily imply an overhaul, but it does suggest the need for regular, impactful changes and a vigilant eye on the future.”