By: Zach Pelletier
Many consumer groups and organizations attempt to predict future trends within the retail industry. From blog posts to newspaper articles, those who work in the marketing industry develop what they believe the future will hold for retailers, and ultimately, consumers. The blogpost written by retail experts at Vend University entitled, 12 Retail Trends and Predictions for 2015, highlights many retail predictions that came to fruition this year. The twelve predictions are as followed:
- Boomers and Millennials will continue to influence retailers.
- Social Networks will serve as shopping platforms.
- Brands will double down on corporate social responsibility.
- Loyalty-wise, the points-for-purchases model will no longer be effective.
- Retailers will adopt and experiment with technology.
- Data will be more accessible and powerful
- Companies will find better ways to manage risk and protect customers.
- More retailers will take control of their value chain and improve order fulfillment.
- More ecommerce sites will set up shop offline.
- Retailers that localize their product mix and store formats will win.
- Mobile will continue to grow in all directions.
- Stores with omnichannel strategies will continue to thrive.
Reflecting on advances and strides that many retailers have made this year, I believe this list is an extremely accurate depiction of what has been done this year. One prediction from the list that has become increasingly popular is social networks serving as shopping platforms. Companies such as Target and Nordstrom are using a new Like2Buy website which can be accessed through both retailers’ Instagram accounts. For example, while looking at the Nordstrom Instagram page, consumers can click on the Like2Buy link which will redirect them to a page that looks very similar to Instagram. There are pictures of merchandise that consumers can double tap or “like,” just like they would on Instagram, which would bring them to the page to checkout and purchase the item. Twitter also has a similar “buy” button that Home Depot and Burberry are currently testing. Facebook is not left out in this recent trend either. Facebook users now scroll through multiple advertisements on their home screens, which allows them to click on the advertisement to redirect them to the website selling a certain good or service. This is extremely beneficial as it allows them to use their social media outlets as more of a “one stop shop” to catch up with friends, while browsing and purchasing items they may want or need.
Another prediction made in the article was that many retailers would revamp their loyalty programs for customers. The article stated that the classic “points” system which allowed consumers to obtain points dependent on their purchases was not going to cut it for 2015. Many consumers are not as excited and motivated to earn points as they were several years ago, when the concept was introduced, therefore, drastic changes would need to be made in order to entice customers. This prediction became evident with many different retailers, who truly changed the concept of loyalty programs. Walgreens for example, now offers rewards for their customers for doing various activities that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. By using this program, customers gain rewards by eating healthy, walking, running, and participating in other forms of physical activity.
The last item on the list that I will discuss is retailers adopting and experimenting with technology. An area that was predicted and has seen rapid growth this year was wearables. In 2014, it was estimated that about 7% of consumers owned wearable gadgets such as smart watches, glasses, or fitness trackers. This number was expected to grow with the introduction of new products, such as the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch revolutionized wearable technology as it offers pretty much every function that your phone does but in a compact watch that you wear on your wrist. Many retailers have benefitted from the Apple Pay function of the Apple Watch and update for the iPhone. Apple pay allows you to load multiple credit and debit cards onto your phone or watch. If a purchase is made a store that supports apple pay, the customer can choose which credit card they would like to use in Apple Pay, put the watch or phone against the sensor, and pay for their purchase.
Reading this article has made me excited to see what’s in store for 2016. I am curious to see which trends that were predicted for 2015 continue to develop further in 2016, and what new ideas and initiatives will be developed in the upcoming year.