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Looking back, 2017 has been a year of flux, change, more flux and then more change.
There’s hardly been a moment to draw breath before a new technology or purchasing behaviour comes along to dislodge the one you’ve just been learning all about … so what’s in store (literally) for 2018?
At Momentum Instore we predict the following five principal areas of growth and focus in the high street retail sector for the next 12 months:
1. Omni, Omni All the Way
Retailers of all sizes will become much more savvy around omni-channel retailing in 2018, refining and tweaking their strategies for a much improved, more seamless customer experience across online and offline. Tools designed for omni-channel retailing are becoming much more accessible, democratizing the scene in a huge way. After seismic technological shifts in recent times, retail will once more move towards levelling its playing field.
2. Endless Love for the Endless Aisle
The trend towards ‘endless aisle’ technology will continue apace, with customers being able to see many more options than are physically available in store. This technology was pioneered by Adidas, who subsequently reported a 40% increase in footwear sales.
3. Staying Social
There will be greater use of social media platforms such as Snapchat by smaller and independent retailers as a means of connecting with the younger millennial customers who are now coming of age. In the ultimate case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”, retailers will find themselves engaging with these customers in new and unexpected ways, which done successfully will really help increase their bottom line.
4. Rapid Response Delivery
We foresee more changes to come in terms of rapid response product delivery, with ‘Uber’-style teams becoming more and more visible in the marketplace. Behind the obvious retail effects, there will also be significant social and economic impacts around the way people work in 2018.
5. Thinking Outside (and Inside) the Box
The further rise of personalised box deliveries, building on 2017 growth across sectors including - but certainly not limited to - food and drink, books and magazines, make-up and toiletries, clothing and pet-related goods. This is likely to include a positive explosion of vegan and other niche health-conscious grocery, toiletry and pamper boxes as well as continuation of the recent trend towards luxe wrapped ‘lucky dip’ treat boxes along the lines of one hardback book per month, three great gins per month, and so on.
So, change is in the air – again! But let’s not forget: we’re still in the retail business, which is a people business – and in spite of the unremitting advance of new technologies and online purchasing, all the research shows that people still like to shop in shops – including millennials. And when people like to come into shops, retailers need to call on their imagination to create that crucial customer engagement in store. If there’s an essential take-out from all this, it’s that good retailers earn customer engagement before, during and after they’re physically in store.
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Mobile Technology for Smart Retailers
If only there were ways for the High Street to maximise technology to compete with the rise of online shopping.