Today’s connected, mobile shopper expects retailers to embrace omnichannel strategies to bridge the gap between offline and online stores.
With these shifting rules of retail, solutions like iBeacon are just the start of store innovation. Whether it’s marketing, merchandising, or operations, merchants are changing how they create the best customer experience.
Here are the key online, mobile, and brick-and-mortar retail trends we expect to see more of in the coming months:
1. More tech in-store
Sensors will become increasingly embedded throughout retail stores so that shoppers can interact with shelves, signs, and displays using their Bluetooth-enabled mobile devices. In a similar vein, augmented reality like virtual fitting rooms, furniture visualizers, and interactive window displays will grow in popularity because of AR’s hands-on way of capturing customer attention.
2. Retailers diversify offerings
We’ve recently seen a handful of ecommerce-first businesses like Amazon, Zappos, and Google open physical stores. This is hardly surprising since 92% of retail purchases still happen offline (according to Forrester). But in order to beat out the competition, new brick-and-mortar retailers will need to focus on differentiating their in-store customer experience. Ted Baker’s grooming rooms and Urban Outfitter’s rooftop restaurant are perfect examples of how retailers will continue to beef up their offerings with experiential services.
3. Athleisure apparel is on the rise
Bloomberg Intelligence predicts that “the lack of a major new fashion trend will likely prevent a sales surge” for apparel retailers’ sales in 2015. But the one area where profit margins are high is the athleisure department. The research firm NPD Group estimates that 49 percent of activewear isn’t purchased for active uses, so the workout-to-workplace movement is definitely up-and-coming.
4. Big data will get bigger
E-commerce won’t be the only ones leveraging shopper analytics. Physical retailers have realized the increasingly critical role advanced analytics has on design, store planning, and staffing optimization. Fortunately, innovative tools like heatmaps and traffic pathmaps give retailers the insights they need to make smart, data-driven business decisions.
Looks like the rest of 2015 will be predictably customer-centric. As retailers fight for consumer attention in a saturated market, redefining the shopper experience will be the key to success.