I recently came across this interesting article from Vend, a retail management software company, on retail trends that they are predicting for 2018 and beyond. Out of the top 12 forecasts that are listed, there are three that I wanted to spotlight for you. Although we understand that this company has vested interest in promoting a growing retail environment, we think these trends are still very insightful. It’s interesting how, from their forecasts, technology will continue to create opportunity in the independent retail market space as oppose to the doom and gloom predictions that everyone will buy solely from Amazon.
Vend’s Retail Trends and Predictions for 2018 and Beyond
Original article: https://www.vendhq.com/2018-retail-trends-predictions
“Chore” shopping will become easier, but the demand for “cherish” retail will be stronger than ever
In 2018, the act of buying commodities (i.e. buying things because we HAVE to) will become less of a chore. Players like Amazon and subscription businesses will make this part of retail easier through offerings like auto-renewals, one-tap purchases, and same-day delivery. In other words, the “chore” or routine component of shopping will become more streamlined.
Meanwhile, the experiential side of retail — the part that involves discovering great products and socializing with others — won’t be going away. People will still make their way to physical stores, not because they want to “buy stuff,” but because they want to get experiences that they won’t find anywhere else.
“There is no doubt that Amazon will continue to disrupt distribution, in particular in the chore side of retail that not many of us like. Technology can predict our behavior and preferences and automation can deliver our bread, toilet paper or a replacement phone charger just in time. Alexa can be your personal assistant simplifying the chore of retail. “Alexa, we need more dishwashing liquid, and something eco-friendly please”. I think this leads to a more delightful experience because it removes the chore.
But there is also no doubt that retail is becoming more vibrant and diverse. More independent stores not fewer. More artisan products. More carefully curated sets of products for you to fall in love with and cherish. It has never been easier to run a retail store than before. And technology is driving this.”
Vaughan Rowsell, Founder at Vend
Retailers that step up their social media strategies will thrive
The rise of Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and messenger apps will fundamentally change how retailers interact with consumers online. Simply posting photos or updates to a branded social profile won’t cut it anymore. Retailers will need to up their social media game and use social networks and apps to tell stories and engage with fans in real time.
Need some social media inspiration? Here are a few retailers that have winning social media strategies:
Birchbox – Birchbox uses Facebook Live to share great content and engage with fans. The cosmetics brand regularly runs Facebook Live videos in which members of the company share news, give away prizes, and answer questions on the air.
According to MarketingDive, Birchbox’s top performing stream “lasted 40 minutes and had an average view time of 10 minutes among the nearly 50,000 viewers who participated live.” Not bad, considering people’s attention spans (particularly online) are getting shorter and shorter.
Born Originals – German fashion brand Born Originals has a large and engaged Instagram following, and was even featured on the official Instagram for Business account.
Born Originals creates customized sneakers and leather goods that are beautiful as they are functional. It’s no wonder their Instagram posts do incredibly well. Their account is filled with gorgeous photos from the company and their customers alike.
Born Originals also makes good use of Instagram Stories. Melvin Lamberty, founder and owner of Born Originals, told Instagram that Stories remain a powerful marketing tool for their brand.
“Users are likely to watch Stories, so we make sure they find all important release, restock and sale info there first. We often include links to make it easy for people to shop there directly, and location filters to raise brand awareness in key cities.”
Shelley E. Kohan, VP of Retail Consulting, RetailNext
Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to flourish
Yes, you read that right. Despite the doom and gloom being reported in certain retail sectors (i.e. department stores), we firmly believe that brick-and-mortar retail is alive and well.
Traditional store formats may be on the decline, but innovative stores — ones that offer great shopping experiences — will continue to emerge.
Industry data supports this. According to the National Retail Federation, data from the IHL Group shows “a net increase in store openings of over 4,000 in 2017. In fact, for each company closing a store, 2.7 companies are opening stores.”
It’s a similar story in the UK, where data from the British Independent Retailers Association shows that more shops were opened than were closed in the first quarter of 2017. This was an increase of 414 shops in the first three months of 2017, compared to a net increase of just 4 shops for the same period the previous year.
It’s important to note that technology will fuel — not curb — the rise of brick and mortar retail. Thanks to modern point of sale and retail management systems, it’s never been easier to open a retail business.
Mobile applications and cloud-based solutions are enabling merchants to quickly set up shop with a minimal investment. Because of this, we’ll be seeing more independent stores enter the market.
“The internet has had a flattening effect on the industry, and as a result, even the smallest retailer has tremendous opportunity to launch and thrive.
Advertising costs have never been lower, because of the power of social media. Independents can develop a following at a relatively low cost if they have a product or service that people are passionate about.
Access to both software and hardware to empower selling is also cheaper, and it enables small retailers to develop a bond and an understanding of what their customers want. That, in turn, lets them offer a high level of product and service.”
Sanford Stein, Author of Retail Schmetail; Founder and moderator of Retail Speak
Online Sales Manager