Predictions in retail the last few years have been grim. Experts have sworn retail Armageddon was upon us, and many touted the downfall of brick-and-mortar stores. However, recent quarterly statements from major retailers have been telling a different story. E-commerce has made a statement, but physical locations are evolving, not vanishing. 2018 has laid the foundation for the changing wave of retail, and these trends are sure to make a statement in 2019.
1. Data will reign
Consumer data is precious. Success in retail lies in smartly predicting consumer demand, and data is the key. Not only will data analytics boost sales, but it will offer personalize the shopping experience and help retailers understand customer behavior. This information will guide everything from marketing strategies to products and services, and data will continue to play a major role in all parts of retail.
2. Physical and digital will coexist
Brick-and-mortar locations are still standing, and despite the popularity of e-commerce platforms, online sales do not exceed in-store sales for the typical retailer. 2018 has demonstrated that waging a war between the two is not the path to success, and that communication between both methods of retail is paramount. Consumers want it all, and in 2019 the customer will be more than always right. The customer is an individual, and they’re shopping for an experience instead of a product.
3. Social commerce will take center stage
Platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are taking advantage of the audience that they captivate multiple times daily. Social commerce is leveraging social media platforms for both likes and purchases, and it’s a genius method of retail that will become more prominent in 2019. Social commerce buys in to the demand for consumer experience and interaction, while also offering goods and services that are incredibly convenient.
4. Click-and-collect services will emerge
In 2018, it was made clear that shipping was pivotal to consumers. If shipping wasn’t free or immediate, buyers weren’t interested. Retailers are expected to absorb the full costs of shipping and returns, and it’s hurting profit margins. To battle the rising shipping costs, click-and-collect services will emerge in 2019. The option to collect at stores will ease the burden retailers are facing and still offer consumers convenience with perks like curbside pickup.
5. Sustainability will be the norm
This trend gained traction in 2018, but it is guaranteed to hold even more weight in 2019. Consumers expect their products to be ethically sourced and their services to offer more than what can be purchased with dollars. Consumers want to know that a retailer is doing to reduce their footprint and if they support a specific cause. A retailer who hesitates to do more than increase their profit margins will see a decrease in consumer loyalty.
6. Omnichannel strategies will launch interactive customer experiences
The ultimate consumer experience is what every retailer is desperate to capture, and with technological advances and an omnichannel strategy, 2019 will offer new possibilities. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality will become more than just buzzwords. They will exist in interactive aisles that communicate directly with individual consumers, blending all methods of browsing and purchasing. It’s a competitive market, and nothing but innovation in retail will be seen moving forward with an omnichannel approach.
Physical retail is not collapsing by any means, and despite the strength ecommerce has shown, this platform is not yet ready for a complete takeover. It’s unlikely that any online platform will be able to exist without a physical presence, and vice versa. The trends of 2019 forecast growth for the changing industry, all with consumers closely watching and waiting for the next creative retail experience.