Five Retail Trends to Watch For in 2019
In the twenty-first century, retail is an ever-shifting landscape. Today's cutting-edge trend is tomorrow's outmoded way of doing business. Customers and their preferences can change with startling speed, and retailers who don't keep up risk getting left behind by their more ambitious competitors. What can you look forward to next year? Let's take a look at some emerging trends.
The rise of big data has given retailers more power than ever before to tailor the customer experience. Studies reveal customers come down in favor of personalization -- up to a point. They enjoy seeing products and deals personally relevant to them, and like having their shopping experience expedited. But customers can also be wary about their privacy, and want their expectations managed with integrity. The business owner who manages to hit the sweet spot on personalization stands to reap enormous rewards from loyal customers.
A close cousin to personalization is customization, which puts the power to tailor the customer experience in the hands of the customers themselves. Savvy retailers are reshaping the customer experience by offering customers the chance to build their own products -- whether it's shoes, artwork, or clothing. Mass customization puts power and choice in the consumer's hands, while serving retailers with insights on what shoppers really want.
The age of selling through a single channel are pretty much over. Even if customers are "loyal" to a single channel -- whether it's Amazon, an ecommerce store, or their favorite brick-and-mortar outlet -- many of them will still check multiple outlets before they buy. Retailers with a multi-channel retail solution are poised to get the most out of their customer reach and sales opportunities.
This also means brick-and-mortar stores, despite rumors to the contrary, aren't dead yet. Almost 75% of customers still shop at big retail outlets. Give your customers more ways to buy from you -- online or off -- and they'll take them.
More and more, consumers are relying on community and word-of-mouth instead of advertisements for product recommendations. Forward-thinking retailers have capitalized on this by using the power of social media to connect meaningfully with customers, swapping out automated coupon codes and bland sales copy in favor of genuine engagement. Many retailers increasingly trust this engagement to chatbots, though customers still prefer the human touch.
While we're probably still a few years away from the full proliferation of robotic sales assistants, retailers are benefiting from artificial intelligence today. AI like Siri, Cortana and Alexa already play a huge part in consumers' daily shopping experience. AI will play an ever-increasing part in the retail world, from manufacturing and distribution to delivery. Amazon is already breaking into automated drone delivery.
No one can say for certain what the future will hold. Not every emerging trend takes hold, and the "next big thing" could well be yesterday's news. But smart retailers know to keep an ear to the ground and a watchful eye on the technologies and services that will shape the future of commerce.