As 2015 comes to an end, we now look to 2016 to be a continuation of the 2015 trends, but as progressive companies such as Uber now have retail services in beta, the competition is heating up, and I predict these trends will be accelerated in the next year. The retail trends I see heating up in 2016 are:
Continued Convergence of the Digital and Physical
Pure-play e-commerce players such as Warby Parker, Bonobos and Shoes of Prey are understanding more and more, that when it comes to satisfying customers, it all comes down to the fundamental need for help. They are seizing the opportunity to provide superior customer service by opening physical stores, so their customers can touch and feel their products. These physical stores are proving successful, and congruently, a TimeTrade survey of 5,444 consumers finds that 68% of consumers report they like the option of going to the brick-and-mortar stores of these traditional online players.
The Race to Bring Us On-Demand Service Will Intensify
As the bar for customer experience has been set very high by disruptive companies such as Uber, to add to this disruption, Uber has recently launched pilots of its UberRUSH, a same-day retail delivery service integrated with a merchant’s checkout process. This puts Uber in fierce competition with Amazon same-day delivery. Brands who may want to compete with these two players will have to adapt to this on-demand, Concierge Economy as the TimeTrade survey also reveals that only 27% of consumers feel that traditional big name brands (big box retailers, airlines, rental car services, etc) are trying to provide VIP-like service to everyday customers.
Retailers Will Enhance POS and Analytics
TimeTrade recently surveyed 100 high-level retail decision makers and asked what technologies they look to invest in. The top choices were POS technology and analytics. Clearly retailers want better handling of the in-store transaction as well as a better understanding of what happens with the customer while in the store. As Elie Tahari’s President, Jake Pleeter, recently noted at the Intersect Retail conference in NYC, “Our physical retail stores and the data from these stores are still viewed as a very, very important resource for the company.
Retailers Will Look To Social Marketing
The same TimeTrade survey with retail decision makers also indicates that they are looking to marketing campaigns through social, with 79% responding that this is their top marketing priority. At the same Intersect Retail conference in NYC, the retail panelists reported that campaigns through Instagram were proving very successful.
Good news for consumers for 2016, is that the focus continues to be on improving the retail customer experience. There is no doubt that industry leaders are already being progressive and succeeding, it will be interesting to see if other brands will be able to adapt and become players in the field.