Blog #013: Key Retail Trends

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With the impact of digital being felt more than ever on the high street and shoppers purchasing habits changing, the retail industry is facing an increasing pressure to innovate. Retail will need to adapt and transform by thinking creatively and staying ahead of industry trends in order to survive.

 

Here are the key trends that retail should be embracing.

Experiential and immersive experiences

Long gone are the days of stores being simply a space to sell. Many brands now use the physical retail space as an opportunity to create an experience. It is a place where customers can interact with the brand rather than it purely being seen as just a selling space.

This is particularly key for brands targeting visual-first Gen Z consumers, whose demand for experiential and immersive retail experiences will be high.

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Online in the physical space

Retail has so far kept the online shopping experience separate from the in-store experience. However, there is an opportunity to combine these in a strong and engaging way. Online and offline need to start coming together rather than being replications of each other.

One of the brands at the forefront in creating the store of the future is online luxury fashion retailer Farfetch. Recently they have been delivering services that can be adopted in both the online marketplace and physical stores, for example mobile payment and tools tracking customer behaviour across stores.

In addition, bricks and mortar stores need to start using the same targeting and personalisation that is offered online through investments in augmented and artificial intelligence.

Online retail experiences can also draw their inspiration from offline. This includes brands using visual and audio cues to replicate the multisensory nature of physical retail and create an immersive digital escape for consumers.

Goodbye checkout

Leading online retailer Amazon recently brought their offering into the physical space with a pop-up concept. As you would expect, the experience was far from the usual. Namely the way that they removed the checkout entirely, with customers instead able to buy items on their phone.

Already many supermarkets offer a scan as you shop service and with alternative payment methods now commonplace, such as Apple Pay, shopping without the checkout is not too far away.

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An ever-changing space

The consumer demand for new-ness is insatiable. Our attention spans are short and we are constantly seeking novel experiences. To tackle this, retail spaces need to think about how their stores can be updated regularly. From opting for pop-up concept stores to shops that reinvent themselves with different design themes, keeping things fresh and new is key to piquing your customer’s interest.

The popular American retailer Target have been remodelling their stores to feature two entrances. Each side has been designed for a specific purpose—one focused on ease, think curated grab-and-go grocery items and an Order Pickup counter for quick trips, and the other on inspiration, with elevated product and brand displays that invite guests to browse and discover.

Retailers should also consider how a dual brand space could work. For consumers, having two or more complementary brands together in one space is a valuable proposition.

Whilst retail is coming up against some challenges at the moment, one fact holds true –  in an increasingly digital world customers are still yearning for the human touch. Retail brands need to embrace the challenges they are presented with innovation. Now is the time to explore unconventional ideas, combine the online and offline worlds and embrace the opportunities that these emerging trends present.