5 retail trends taking over the industry and their takeaways
Written by Rafa Pulido ·
Since the disruption of digital, the retail industry has been tasked with facing a variety of unfamiliar retail trends and challenges within an ever-evolving landscape. The future of brick-and-mortar stores has even been brought into question by some naysayers in the sector. But what these critics have failed to see is the opportunity in this new paradigm. Is the death of the high street store near? As physical stores still reign supreme for the lion share of sales, we think not. What is dying is the traditional approach to retail, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today: the evolution of retail in an omnichannel environment.
So, what are the new retail trends picking up traction in retail today? Discover more in this article.
1 . Adoption of high-concepts for high street stores
The idea of making miniature copies of flagship stores and distributing them on different streets isn’t working for retail anymore. With the effortless option of e-commerce just one click away, customers are looking for unique experiences to draw them into stores. Apart from employing their own digital strategy, high street retailers need to transmit value to consumers and give their in-store experience meaning. This deeper form of communication threaded into real-life establishments is what will help retailers keep their identities in the digital age.
The sports retailer, Nike, is the perfect example of employing this high-concept retail trend with their incorporation of a small gym into a New York store’s floor plan. Customers are encouraged to peruse products, enjoy a game of basketball or play with the high-tech simulation treadmills with monitors setup in front. This direct line of communication is what keeps their relationships with customers close and their brand top-of-mind.
Take a look at Nike’s new high-tech, high-concept store in this video:
Key Takeaway: High street stores can no longer just be boxed rooms with products stocked on shelves or items hanging on racks—retailers need to innovate and take advantage of the time spent with customers in their physical spaces. This promoted social interaction with their brand is what makes an impact on consumers, even long after they are gone. This lasting impression is what will influence their behaviour both online and off.
2 . Balance of physical and digital stores
Another emerging trend in the retail sphere involves pure players opening up physical stores. This new development is clear evidence to the contrary of the apparent “high street apocalypse” plaguing the industry. A physical store is still a place where consumers want to spend time, engage with the brand and discover new things. This unique experience is something that only e-commerce cannot provide and they know it—which is why they want to put a physical presence behind their digital brands.
Internet pure player, Amazon, is consistently opening up small retail spaces inside malls, shopping districts and local strips malls to bring their products to the real world. The company also recently acquired the Whole Foods American supermarket chain, blending healthy eating with technological innovation at each physical location (the slash in prices is an obvious added bonus too).
See how Amazon is employing their “phygital” strategy:
Key Takeaway: Finding the right combination of physical and digital is proving to be a powerful recipe for retailers today. Connecting with consumers on all touch points is one retail trend that’s only going to become stronger as time progresses. Balancing both will be key.
3 . Rise of the “pop-up” shop retail trend
The pop-up store trend has been increasingly growing in popularity over the past few years. What once started out as a gimmick for startups to test the market has now turned into a solid strategy for some of the biggest retailers today. Instead of using these physical spaced rented for short periods of time as a trial run, top brands convert them into showrooms to generate hype and engage potential customers in a specific area.
British rainwear company, Hunter, employed a pop-up strategy that fuelled their communication campaign in the United States. This powerful campaign idea was sparked by growing concern that many New Yorkers were familiar with the brand but unaware of its history.
Learn more about the Hunter brand culture:
Key Takeaway: The ephemeral concept behind a pop-up store does not mean the message is also temporary. Apart from “testing marketing conditions”, these types of brand “happenings” have proven to be an effective tool for raising brand awareness and developing solid relationships with customers.
4 . Moving from the outskirts to central locations
The effects of increased online spending are being felt by everyone in the industry. The trend of flocking toward city centres and travelling by bike or catching an Uber is changing how people move about from place to place. Many retailers who used to rely on their customers travelling by car to frequent their stores are facing the harsh reality this new urban movement presents and seeing how e-commerce is able to immediately satisfy these new needs.
The world’s biggest furniture retailer, Ikea, has experienced this phenomenon head on. The company’s new CEO has made developing new stores and showrooms in city centres a top priority for the next years to come.
Haven’t stumbled upon an Ikea pop-up yet? Experience it for yourself in this video:
Key Takeaway: E-commerce shopping and city-centre living are causing retailers to become a lot more careful when choosing an area to open a store. This makes the location more important than ever because the right location makes the difference between being relevant or invisible. Luckily, there are new technologies such as Location Intelligence that solve this need.
5 . Next-day home delivery services
As a means to increase premium subscriptions and generate brand loyalty, retailers are also trying out next-day (or even same-day) home delivery services. Consumers who aren’t visiting the physical stores are being incentivized to visit the company’s online store and purchase items “hassle-free” with the promise having them arrive at their doorsteps in record time. This new physical and digital hybrid is what many in this industry are banking on to keep their customers loyal and their sales consistent.
But the competition for fast delivery isn’t only for avant-garde high street retailers employing digital tactics, pure players transitioning to physical are also playing ball. It’s no surprise when American grocer Walmart announced it’s two-day delivery offer that Whole Foods (acquired by Amazon) announced its two-hour delivery offer for Prime customers that very same day.
Discover how Walmart plans to compete with Amazon below:
Key Takeaways: Having customers wait for days (or even weeks) to receive a purchased product doesn’t work in the “see now, buy now” model. To maintain a competitive advantage, it will be key for retailers to streamline delivery operations to stay relevant and keep consumers happy.
The transformation of retail brought on by unprecedented technological advancement is becoming quite a nail-biter. Will these new retail trends taking the industry by storm make or break the companies who dare to open new lines of communication through digital strategies? It will all depend on the context and implementation of these tactics and if they resonate with consumers. Only time will tell. What’s certain for retailers today is that failure to adopt technologies that seek to balance both physical and digital touch points won’t be the ones who make it to the other side.