Retail Trends 2019

Retail Trends 2019

Pay a visit to a shopping mall on any given day of the week, and it seems certain we are undergoing a retail catastrophe. What were once hubs of commerce teeming with shoppers are now empty avenues of stores, owing to the surge in online shopping and a paradigm shift in consumer preferences. Brick and mortar stores would appear to be phasing out.

But 2019 promises otherwise, in part because technological advances will allow retailers to synergize between the real and virtual shopping worlds. If brands want to salvage their businesses from total obliteration, they must adapt to the evolution of technology and customers’ demands. Here’s what 2019 has in store for the retail industry.

Experience over material possessions. This one is rather intuitive: what are you more likely to cherish, a product with a finite lifetime, like liquid eyeliner, or an enthralling interactive activity, like a professional styling makeover? Millennials have made it clear they’re all about the latter, that is, experiences over product-driven shopping. Brands such as Nordstrom and Sephora are already adjusting their approach, carving out new stores that exclusively provide styling, sampling services, and hands-on demos to pack in more emotional punch than buying a product does.

Subscription E-Commerce. If you shop on Amazon, you’ve surely discovered a feature that allows you to set up a regular subscription to a product, be it infant formula or toilet paper. Indeed, in our fast-paced world, time is a liability, and why waste precious minutes filling out repetitive orders for the mundane? Direct and consistent delivery to your door at specially discounted prices is the name of the game. McKinsey & Company reports that 15{46c888f8a4e703d556624fa23f3725348ef15785f115a39ddd1a01c3b1f5f5fe} of online consumers signed up for subscription services in 2017, and that proportion is assured to continue rising.

Interplay of physical and virtual. Brick and mortar shops may be shuttering at alarming rates, but they will remain integral to the sales process as part of a broader retail strategy. After all, physical stores offer customers a tangible experience where they can see and touch products before closing a purchase. Brands must capitalize on that advantage while at the same time reeling in potential customers on their preferred social media platforms, be it Instagram or Snapchat for Millennials, or Facebook for Baby Boomers.

Packaging and sustainability. As food waste and plastic pollution make headline news, firms will focus on reducing their ecological footprints, and consumers are keeping a watchful eye. The average shopper has become more aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging and is letting this cognizance sway her purchasing habits. For retailers, it’s not so much minimizing waste as it is a corporate social responsibility to effect positive change.

Easy shopping via the Internet of Things (IoT). The network of devices, vehicles, and home appliances that contain software and connectivity to interact and exchange data is collectively known as IoT, and from this, retailers can amass loads of information on customers’ product usage. As such, they can dispatch pertinent marketing messages to their customers during every step of the buyer journey. The giant American department store Macy’s, for example, has been leveraging IoT since 2014 to send in-app alerts to consumers’ smartphones based on proximity to one of their stores, in order to promote discounts or render product recommendations.

The retail industry shows no sign of letting down in growth momentum. But for brands to even entertain the notion of survival, let alone permanence, they must be savvy of emerging trends and adapt accordingly.

Contributed by Danielle Issa.

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