This is part one of our retail trend predictions for 2016. You can read part two here.
It seems as though the divide between digital and physical retail is rapidly blurring. In 2016, trends in retail will continue to create an even more seamless shopping experience for the consumer, helping to ensure that anyone can “shop anywhere and receive goods in the most convenient way possible,” according to Forbes. Below are trends that we predict will dominate the retail industry in 2016 and how some retailers are already taking advantage of them.
1. The Internet of Things
You may have already heard a lot of buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT), and in 2016, we expect the buzz to get louder in the retail scene.
Wait, what is the Internet of Things?
IoT refers to a network of electronically-embedded “things” with sensors, software, and network connectivity to collect and exchange data with each other, and it’s no rookie to the retail game. Luxury brand Hugo Boss has started to use heat sensors in some stores to track customer movement, which helps them to determine which areas of the store receive the most traffic. Findings from these sensors are valuable for Hugo Boss’s visual merchandising strategies.
2. Smarter Feedback
With information from sales transactions and newer sources of information such as IoT data, social media, and review platforms, you can now get feedback more easily than ever. How will you use this information to uncover new insights and improve the quality of your products and services?
3. Touching and Testing
The iconic layout of Apple Stores invites hands-on interaction with their products—from the height of the tables to the angles that the laptops are opened to. When a customer is able to touch and test a product, it becomes easier for them to imagine it fitting into their lifestyle, and they become more confident in their decision to purchase. How are you making your products scream, “Come touch me”?
Consider offering personalized recommendations to aid consumers who enter your shop without a clear shopping goal in mind or who may be unfamiliar with the product or service through signage or superb customer service. Believe it or not, you see this everyday.
Don’t know what type of tomato you should pick? Trader Joe’s signs not only distinguish cherry tomatoes from plum tomatoes, but they also suggest that the former are great for adding to salads and the latter are better for slicing.
Not sure which colors to choose for a night out? Sephora’s Color IQ service, which is available in all stores, offers scientifically precise “matches” for concealer, foundation, and lip color based on your skin tone. Whether you have simple signs or high-tech devices, try to keep the shopper engaged with solution-oriented signage and services.
Consumers are now turning to their phones as their favorite “shopping buddy,” and word-of-mouth has a higher impact on purchase decisions as influencers drive sales by endorsing products through Instagram and YouTube. Nowadays, reviews are skimmed through before confirming items in a cart.
It is already possible to make purchases through social apps like Twitter’s Buy Now buttons, Facebook’s mobile stores, and Pinterest’s Buyable Pins, all of which shrink the gap between desire and a tangible object at your door. It won’t be long until Snapchat and Instagram join in with a shoppable interface!
These five trends are especially useful for engaging customers through personalized solutions and integrations with the apps and websites that they already use. Customer engagement and smarter technology can create a seamless shopping experience while increasing brand loyalty and awareness. Stay tuned for Part Two of our retail trends series, where we’ll discuss four more innovative ways to keep shoppers happy in 2016!
Ready to test these strategies out in the real world? Take your brand offline with a pop-up shop.