We'll always have... Paris… no, no, I mean we'll always have trends. But if you think trends are about something coming in the future, let me tell you that many trends that were mentioned not too long ago are already here. General prognostications indicated that the retail industry would prosper in 2013, through the use of both tangible and technological techniques -- and through greater understanding of what the customer wants -- and that's been basically true.
Here are a few posts we've written about trends over the past many months -- they're all different -- and there are more to come. Some we did include: 12 Technology Trends Online & In-Store Retailers Need To Understand & Use — Or Die; With eCommerce Set To Surpass $200 Billion in 2013, Every Retailer Must Heed These 17 Online Shopping Trends. There are several others, all of which can be viewed by clicking here, and I have another post on trends in preparation as we speak.
Here are some of the latest trends foreseen for 2013:
1. Retailers Have A Need To Be In Physical Stores. Despite the fact that e-commerce has been thriving for many years, for a variety of reasons, a whopping 90 percent of sales still occur in physical store locations. Interestingly, just as brick-and-mortar stores have been upping their game to compete against their online rivals, major online retailers have started testing temporary physical locations designed to let consumers browse in-store and then buy online. These temporary shops help online retailers display their products and give customers a more sensory shopping experience while carrying low inventories and investing less in real estate.
2. Life and Retail Are Accelerating. People are leading increasingly hectic lives. Back in 1900 people slept for 9.0 hours every night. Now it’s just 6.9 hours. This is driving trends like drive-by dining, mobile banking and also hurting large shopping malls, which take too much time to shop. Some people are getting increasingly bored with the same brands in the same places, which in turn is driving ‘pop-up’ retail and ‘limited time only’ products and offers.
3. Watch-Click-Buy Shopping Is Here. Shoppable Media is the industry term for video or print vehicles where the customer can push a button in the midst of the video/movie/YouTube to indicate interest in an item in the video and put it into their shopping cart. I just wrote about Shoppable Media: 6 Ways “Shoppable Media” Beget Retail Profits & Where Price Doesn’t Seem To Matter -- and where this technology is headed.
4. Technological Innovations Are Multiplying. The popularity and ease of online shopping has forced retailers to utilize technological conveniences such as tablets, interactive panels, and digital signage. Some retailers are expediting the checkout experience by allowing shoppers to use their mobile phones to instantly scan their items and pay at self-serve kiosks. A few have started using state-of-the-art tracking technology that prompts the play of product videos when consumers reach for a particular product.
5. Prices Are Polarizing. By 2015, the futurists predict that the middle class will have disappeared in most developed countries taking mid-price retailers with them. Most consumer markets will be polarized with low price at one end and luxury at the other. Many customers will have the ability to buy both $15 T-shirts one minute and $500 jeans the next.
6. Sectors Are Blurring. i.e. Bookshops will sell coffee (they already do). Coffee shops will sell music. Music stores will sell groceries; and supermarkets will sell loans or phone contracts, just to name a few. Many have been doing this for quite a while.
7. RFID is Expanding. You know those plastic things stapled into merchandise that set off alarms if you try to make off with them? RFID = glorified barcodes -- tiny microchips with an antenna attached which retailers use to manage inventory and stop theft -- can also be used to trigger promotional messages when a customer picks up a product in store, or scan your bags and automatically take the money as you leave the store.
8. Generations Are Flipping. Retailers who obsessively focus on young people are making a mistake. Think about it: a study that found in the US there were 7,700 clothing chains selling to the teen market (with a theoretical sales of US $5.8m per store), but only 1,800 stores targeting baby boomers (with theoretical sales of US $19.2m per store)!
9. Mass Customizing and Bespoking Are Here. Mass Customizing sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Can you be "mass", and also individualized? As some groups of people move into the age of luxury and the ‘made for me’ milieu, you'll see a lot more of the word, "bespoke" as more customers use items custom-made, by, and for, themselves.
10. Brand Politics Are Talking… And Women Aren't. (I've combined two here).
1) In the future, customers will check for information about brands' ethical policies (e.g. natural or synthetic fiber, sweat-shop-free, minimum-wage produced products, etc.) online and by scanning with mobile phones.
2) Women As Buyers & Decisionmakers Should Be Given More Attention, say the trendwatchers. After all, women are the biggest market on earth. (One example, women buy 65% of cars and make 81% of financial decisions).
Bottom Line For Your Bottom Line:
You can see the importance for retailers to think about the economy, social stratification, generational anomalies, multiplying uses of technologies and pricing and assortment intelligence solutions to stay strong in the retail competition game. Also to learn from the past in order to live in the present and understand and prepare for future retail competition.