The latest trends in retail are driven by two things; advanced technology and shifting consumer preferences.
Despite today's alarming closure rates, brick-and-mortar stores still play a key role in the sales process. Physical stores are part of a much broader retail strategy and no longer the primary point of sales, and retailers needs to get creative and offer consumers an experience they won’t be able to find online. Customers are seeking an engaging experience (if this is news to you and you work in retail, you’re in trouble).
The trend we’ve seen in retail over the past few years has been to widen the net that catches customers. Our Consultants are out and about visiting the brands we partner with regularly, so we thought we’d share what some of these stores and boutiques are doing to widen their ‘net’.
These are the biggest retail trends in 2019.
Shopping with Augmented Reality
Retailers are using Augmented Reality (AR) technology to bridge the gap between in-store and online;
- Tommy Hilfiger and Rebecca Minkoff have introduced smart mirrors in their fitting rooms that allows customers to see further information about the items they’ve brought in, order other looks or different sizes, or conveniently call for assistance from a Sales Assistant without leaving the changing room.
- Burberry recently used AR by offering Burberry-inspired graphics that customers could add to their photos and share on social media. Rather than pushing sales, the objective was to build relationships and their brand.
- Charlotte Tilbury’s smart mirror in Westfield London lets customers virtually try on make-up.
Ethical and value-based brands
Consumers are evaluating products and brands based on a company’s ethics and values; green is the new black. Offering genuine transparency and taking a stance on ethical issues can be risky, but when done right it can build lasting customer loyalty and trust.
In-store personalisation and exclusivity
What seems to be the new hype is exclusivity and private label collections; CB Insights reports that private label sales are growing three times faster than branded products. A private label product or line is developed exclusively for a specific retailer for sale in its store - The Selfridges Corner Shop is a prime example of this.
Visitors can design their custom bag at Misela.
Pop-up shops are having a moment and retailers of all sizes are popping up across London. Temporary storefront shopping experiences are a great way to interact with customers face-to-face, collect customer data and generate social buzz.
Pop-up shops are a great way for ecommerce brands to test the market before committing to opening a permanent store – which leads us to the next point.
Digital brands are going offline
We see more and more brands that started off online, making it onto the high street and into department stores. Amazon are opening 10 stores across the UK this year and previously online-only beauty brand Glossier has opened their first store due to huge success online. This is an example of how online and offline can (and should) go hand-in-hand to drive growth, rather than compete.
The idea is simple; snap a photo of a product to find out where you can buy it. Artificial Intelligence identifies the product (or similar ones) across multiple sites and retailers in a heartbeat. This is a retail strategy that for example ASOS has introduced in their app.
Omnichannel commerce is still a buzzword and something retailers continue to invest heavily in. Providing a seamless shopping experience through online and offline channels not only differentiates brands from competitors, but also gives them a competitive edge over online-only retailers as they can use their store assets.
Consumer preference and shopping habits are leading the changes in our industry. Millennials and the next generation of consumers are digital natives. They no longer want to just walk into a shop to buy a product. They want engaging and personalised brand experiences and expect access to the widest assortment of products. We’re investing in digital and technological innovation that merges in-store and online channels.Daniel Grieder, CEO at Tommy Hilfiger
Shoppable Instagram posts and stories in particular have taken off in the last year, with 41% of ecommerce brands using this feature. Retailers can take advantage of the rise in social shopping by collaborating with influencers and investing in building shoppable social profiles, especially on Instagram and Pinterest.
When it comes to online shopping, today’s shoppers preferably want their orders delivered yesterday. Same-day delivery is far from a new concept and is becoming the norm in 2019 as order fulfilment technology and standards evolve.
Retailers must invest in their workforce
These days, the role of a retail Sales Assistant calls for more than just sales and store admin. Retail associates needs to become product experts and consult customers so that they can deliver a meaningful interaction in-store that gives consumers confidence in what to buy.
Employment rate in the UK remains at a record high and finding the right talent for your brand is a challenge, even for the most experienced hiring manager. Give us a call on 0208 237 8900 if your store is in need of a customer service focused, proactive and engaging professional.