The process of shopping for and buying products has evolved. As technology advances and consumer trends come and go, it’s fascinating to think about what the future holds for retailers and shoppers. If you run a store, or you’re looking to enjoy a slice of the e-commerce action, here is a guide to the most significant trends shaping the future of retail.
A growing interest in sustainability
We are more aware of climate change than ever before, and both consumers and retailers are looking for ways to do their bit to protect the planet, reduce waste and reuse and recycle materials. An interest in fast fashion, which was fuelled by falling prices, discount culture and the rise of social media, has given way to a commitment to sustainable fashion, for example, and this is a trend that looks set to gather pace. More and more brands are introducing eco-friendly collections, and there’s also been an influx of stores offering buy-back schemes. Renting clothing has also become more popular, and vintage and second-hand stores are enjoying a moment in the spotlight. Retailers can respond to a growing interest in green living by diversifying their product range and using different materials during the production and packaging processes. It’s also beneficial to connect with customers who are looking to endorse or support eco-friendly brands by using social media and email communications to cover related topics. Brands can also enhance their image and reputation by donating to environmental charities and supporting causes that champion sustainability.
Using technology to optimise customer experience
Retailers have always been driven by a goal to attract customers, maintain their interest and encourage them to make a purchase. The aim remains the same, but there are different ways to go about achieving objectives in 2020 and beyond. Technology is increasingly influential in the world of retail, and store and chain owners can take advantage of features and services that take customer experience to the next level.
In years gone by, you had to imagine what a statement armchair would look like by creating a vision of your lounge in your head and hoping that image matched expectations when you got home. Today, you can place that product in your home, using AR to experiment with different positions, change the room or look into different color or pattern options. Websites can offer features that enable you to virtually try on clothes or jewellery and you can compare a raft of different outfits at the touch of a button. Whether you sell in-store or online, technology has the potential to offer unique, creative, enjoyable experiences. If you’re not a tech guru and you’re looking to expand a small business or get started in the world of e-commerce, it’s wise to seek advice from retail consultants like Mark Taylor and to gain an insight into what will work for you based on your objectives and your target customer. Technology is advancing rapidly, and it can be difficult to keep tabs on developments and innovations. This is why it pays to have an expert in your corner.
Catering for consumer demands
Competition to attract customers is fierce, and this means that customers hold the cards. To succeed, retailers need to be aware of what customers want and what kinds of services or added extras will make them choose one business over another. Shopping as an activity has changed almost beyond recognition, and stores have to respond to new trends. Depending on the ideal buyer persona, retailers may be going all-out to provide convenience, to encourage interaction and engagement, to save time and effort or to offer an exclusive service. This might mean integrating modern payment systems, offering next or even same-day delivery, or providing a members-only subscription service, for example.
Combining offline and online stores
Online shopping may be becoming more popular year on year, but this doesn’t signal the death knell for physical stores. In fact, retailers can use the Internet to market their shops and promote in-store experiences. More people are searching for products and services online, with Google processing more than 60,000 searches per second, but not everyone wants to buy online. People often use search engines to find information about stores in their local area. If you have an effective local SEO campaign, this could help to boost store visits and sales. Research suggests that 88% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store within 24 hours. Features like ordering online to pick up in-store are also proving popular.
The way we shop for and buy products has changed over the years. As technology exerts an increasingly potent force and the Internet becomes an increasingly valuable resource for shoppers, it’s vital for retailers to respond to new trends and keep their customers happy.