Retail Trends: What You Can Expect in 2018
With eCommerce growing at exponential rates, many brick-and-mortar stores worry about the future of their retail business. Will all shopping be done online from now on? How can retailers compete in this ever-changing environment? The answers may surprise you.
We’ve all heard the term “omnichannel” by now. This buzzword has been hot in recent years, but it may come to mean something different in 2018. This year is predicted to be less about brick-and-mortar stores competing with online retailers, and more about the integration of the online and brick-and-mortar stores to create the best experience for the customer. Retailers are introducing more of their online technology in their physical stores, whether it be through an app or in-store kiosks where shoppers can curate their shopping experience. Stores are also creating shareable experiences, where shoppers are drawn to share their shopping experience on social media.
Shopping is more social than ever. Though customers still shop on their phones in the comfort of their own homes, they are increasingly using social media to not only influence their buying decisions but to complete transactions. Shop Now buttons on social media posts are a rising trend, allowing customers to scroll through their feed and easily make a purchase. Additionally, customers are increasingly looking for a sense of community in their shopping experience. Online communities that bring your customers together to share tips, trends, and product reviews allow people with shared interests to feel a connection to a brand as well as their fellow shoppers. This sense of community builds customer relationships beyond the transaction.
The customer defines their own shopping experience. This is perhaps one of the most crucial trends to take note of, because it won’t be changing anytime soon. In today’s retail environment, customers want what they want, when and how they want it. It’s not up to the retailer to design the customer experience anymore. The customer will tell you what they want, and you’re expected to deliver if you want to stay relevant.
Customers want a personalized shopping experience. With so many retailers and products to choose from, customers have an incredible amount of freedom to curate and personalize the exact order that they want. Offering a high level of personalization in products and the way that customers shop for these products will be essential for retailers.
In the digital age, cashless payment is critical for customers. Apple Pay, PayPal, Google Wallet, and even RFID wristbands all allow customers to complete a transaction quickly and securely. 2018 will see the continuation of this trend, with quicker, safer, cashless payment at the forefront of retail.
CSR is now a given, and customers expect it. While corporate social responsibility has been a big trend for years, savvy retailers will observe that CSR is the key to gaining the elusive Millennial brand loyalty. Millennials have historically been hard to pin down in terms of brand loyalty, shopping at small businesses and boutiques just as often as they do at big-box stores. However, companies that prioritize CSR have found success in capturing the Millennial market.
Change is on the horizon for retailers in 2018, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 2018 will be an exciting time for retailers to really focus on the customer experience, integrating new technologies into their stores, and creating a community around their brand.