It’s a new year for retail. Now that the holidays are over, retailers are looking to grow and better their business in 2018.
With a new year comes new trends in the retail industry. In this article, we explore retail and eCommerce trends we expect to see more of in 2018. See how your business stacks up.
2018 Retail and eCommerce Trends
Over the past few years, the retail industry has seen major shifts to omnichannel and digital selling with customers calling the shots. The rapid advancement and adoption of technology has been the driving force behind these changes. 2018 will be the same.
Retailers will focus on creating an optimized customer experience that their competitors can’t rival. And to do that, retailers will need to get on board with these following 5 retail trends in 2018.
More Tech-Enabled Store Associates
One way brick-and-mortar retailers are looking to up the in-store experience is providing in-store associates with better technology. It’s also an important way for retailers to combat employee turnover rates that have been as high as 65%!
Employers should empower store associates so they can better interact with and serve customers. To do that though, employees need quicker access to accurate data.
Most companies will achieve this by putting mobile devices in the hands of their store associates. They should have access to real-time inventory counts and customer data and be able to process transactions anywhere in the store. This year, we expect associates, armed with data, to improve the in-store experience.
More Investment in Supply Chain and Logistics
If retailers want a competitive advantage in 2018, then they should look no further than optimizing their supply chain or logistics processes.
Today’s consumers want fast and free shipping options. They want multiple delivery options like picking up in-store or a different location. Customers demand the option to re-route orders after they ship. They expect 100% accurate and on-time deliveries. And, don’t forget about easing the process of returns.
Investing in your retail supply chain is key to delivering a customer experience that exceeds expectations. Retailers will look to overcome the complexities of delivery, while also optimizing their costs this year. Those who don’t, probably won’t be around much longer.
The supply chain industry is going under a huge transformation and retailers should prepare for it. See more specific supply chain trends to watch in 2018.
Need for Multichannel Integration
It will now always be the year of the shopper. Merchants will continue to differentiate themselves from their competition through their customer experience. To satisfy all the demands of today’s customers, merchants require a way to manage both customer-facing operations and back-end operations. This need is more important than ever.
Retailers looking to grow will invest in service providers that help make their systems compatible. They will continue to replace legacy software that doesn’t integrate well with other systems.
Retailers will look to multichannel management platforms that allow them to manage their flow of data between systems so they can update inventory in real-time, process orders quicker, and manage and list products across all sales channels.
Multichannel integration reduces time and labor of manually entering data between systems and ensures accuracy across the entire business. Retailers can provide a consistent experience across the entire shopper’s journey and sets themselves apart in the market.
Digital Brands Opening Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Despite the many headlines of the failing brick-and-mortar industry, more digital brands will continue to open physical stores for the first time.
A handful of brands have done so already over the past few years. Think of Warby Parker, Amazon, and Bonobos. Physical stores still play an important part in the customer experience and customer journey. We expect digital brands to continue to expand beyond just the internet.
Smaller, Tech-Enabled Physical Stores
It is true that some big-box retailers are struggling. More notable brands will continue to close their doors. In 2017, we saw many retailers announce closes among sagging sales such as Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s. And in 2018, they are expecting even more retail closings.
However, this is not a tell-tale sign of a total retail apocalypse that many are sounding off. Retailers that are closing their doors are ones that have failed to differentiate or improve themselves over the years. They have non-competitive pricing, rely solely on promotions, and provide a generic experience.
The in-store experience will change in 2018. We are already seeing brands shifting their way of thinking. They’re downsizing stores and adding more technology to bridge offline and online experiences. Look no further than Target, Barnes and Noble, and Walmart as examples.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Data is such a generic word. Big Data gets thrown around all the time. However, are retailers actually data-driven?
This year, we expect retailers to do a better job of organizing their data and making more data-driven decisions for sales, marketing, customer service, and operations. Overall, data should lead you to provide a better customer experience.
And, data isn’t just for retail giants like Walmart who are using machine learning, AI, IoT and Big Data to boost their performance. Small businesses can use modern platforms to take advantage of their data to grow their business.
What to Do Next: More Retail Trends and Statistics
The retail industry moves fast. We hope that knowing these trends helps you keep up.
Catch up on other retail trends and stats by checking out these articles:
- 6 Customer Experience Trends You Should Know About
- Big Trends in Supply Chain Management You Need to Know About
- B2B eCommerce Trends B2B Sellers Should Know
- 2017 Retail Trends
- Retail Data: 100 Stats about Retail, eCommerce & Digital Marketing
- eCommerce Statistics: 100 Stats and Trends about Online Shopping