The top Five Retailing Trends of 2019
The transformation of the UK retail sector continues and after a period of change and uncertainty, retailers are now starting to more visibly adapt to shifts in retail habits, attitudes and preferences. As in previous years, customer experience dominates the agenda but that’s not all that 2019 holds in store. Here are our top five trends that will shape the sector this year.
1) It’s all about the tech...
From mobile apps to POS material, email marketing to integrated systems, retail thinking continues to embrace new technology. The emergence of virtual reality, augmented reality and improved mobile technology will all continue to push retail brands to add layers to their customer journeys in addition to the physical experience they must still provide.
2) Experiential and emotional retail
2018 was a year that saw several stalwarts of the British high streets struggle to hold on as they wrestled with the change needed to meet the demand of today’s customers. 43 companies, affecting over 2,500 stores and almost 50,000 staff, went into administration during the year, evidence should it be needed of just how difficult the market has been to operate in.
3) Multichannel by default
Bricks and mortar stores are here to stay, but their purpose continues to evolve. Stores are no longer a single experience in their own right. Tech-savvy consumers are likely to have conducted at least a small part of their journey online, whether this is researching a specific product, comparing price points or simply weighing up its social media appeal. It is the brands that are embracing this evolving technological landscape that will flourish.
4) The rise of the small store format
From niche boutiques to pop-up stores, this smaller and more personalised approach to creating a brand experience is going to be huge in 2019. Consumer behaviour and the integration of technology to link the end-user experience with in house stock management and external product fulfilment means stores no longer need to hold onto endless amounts of stock. Bespoke display and POS material is increasingly more accessible allowing evens micro-brands to achieve a more desirable physical layout. Smaller means more focused and tailored and therefore, a more unique customer experience.
5) The end of the 9am-5pm culture?
In a time when consumers can browse the web or access a retail app at any time of day or night, it’s a natural evolution that the physical shopping experience must look at how it can adapt to this appetite for 24/7 access to products. Many large supermarkets already offer 24-hour opening and shopping centres across the UK have extended opening hours well into the night. But with the increased focus on a multichannel experience and the desire for instant gratification with a purchase, it’s likely the high streets will need to think seriously about whether offering less conventional opening hours is necessary.
It’s an exciting future; technology on both the part of the retailer and the consumer means new thinking is needed about how to fulfil the needs and wants of customers. It’s unchartered territory and while there’s lots of research about what could/should/might work, there are some amazing opportunities for brands to increase their positioning by simply trying new things to re-invent their customer experience.
It’s broader than this though, and physical stores must not take their eye off the importance of knowing what their customers expect (and need) from them and delivering a real experience to deliver this. Layout, the products stocked and the ability to experience these products all matter, as does the emotional connection retailers hope their customers will make.
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