The world of retail is continuously evolving for both retail businesses and consumers. While technology is partly responsible, the changing attitudes of consumers are also influencing the way retail businesses market their products and treat their customers. Looking at current practices and consumer interests, we can predict how trends will shape the retail experience in the coming year.

Say Goodbye to Return Fraud

In the past couple of years, retail businesses have learned to rely on data analytics to help them determine which products sell best and where most of their customers are coming from. Now, businesses are starting to collect data about product returns to identify fraudulent returns. The most common practice in this type of fraud is to buy an item with the intention of using it once or briefly and returning it for a full refund. By analyzing data retail stores hope to identify those abusing the system, so those individuals can be banned from making additional purchases.

Expect to See More Pop-Up Stores

Everyone from Cadillac to Mazuma is expected to jump on this trend of sponsoring boutique businesses. You might see pop-up stores that feature high-end products showing up in credit unions, car dealerships, and other consumer-related businesses. That’s because it provides an opportunity for the sponsor and for the retail business. For instance, Cadillac sponsored a Sag Harbor shop opening at one of their dealerships, which helped to increase consumer traffic for both businesses. More retail businesses are expected to take advantage of this in the coming year, because it provides an opportunity to reach consumers without investing in a full outlet store.

Consumers Want the Experience

While the sale of products will continue to propel our economy, modern consumers are far more interested in experiences and retailers are looking for ways to deliver. In the coming year, it’s expected to see more services offered in retail stores, which may include free samples, beauty makeovers, and other similar services. By providing in-store experiences, retailers are hoping to encourage consumers to return more frequently.

The IoT Will Become More Useful

the Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is expected to evolve by leaps and bounds in the coming year. Where retail is concerned, we expect to see smart home devices connect with our mobile devices to notify us of needs and offer money-saving recommendations. For instance, when your smart refrigerator detects expired milk, you may receive a notification to your phone. In addition to letting you know the milk has expired, you may also receive price comparisons for milk at area stores. This type of notification system may be applied to cosmetics, personal hygiene products, or any other product you purchase regularly.

Transparency Will Be Even More Important 

The social media explosion has cast every business beneath a powerful spotlight and, moving forward, consumers will expect even more transparency from their favorite brands. Consumers want to see retail companies take a stronger stance on cultural, social, and political issues, so, if retailers are expected to thrive, they will have to develop a strong sense of corporate responsibility. This also means taking a look at how they offer their products to ensure they’re not creating unnecessary waste and that they’re addressing social issues in terms of how their employees are treated.

A Rise in Subscription Services

In terms of subscription services, one product that frequently comes to mind is shaving razors. Consumers pay a subscription fee and receive razors delivered right to their door according to a pre-established schedule. This type of service is expected to rise in 2019 and may be applied to a broad range of products. Any item that is used and purchased on a regular basis may become part of a subscription service. For the consumer, this helps them save money, while receiving products delivered right to their door. For the retail store, this ensures consumers will continue to fill their needs with them instead of switching to a competitor.

as new innovations and new consumer practices continue to change the market, the retail industry will evolve. The trends mentioned here may just be the tip of the iceberg, but they make it easy to see that consumers are more interested in experiences and personalized services. If retail stores are expected to thrive in 2019, they will have to rise to meet this challenge.

 

By: Dennis Hung