It has certainly been a tough year for retail. Toys R Us, Maplin and Poundworld have gone bust and thousands of jobs have been lost across the sector.
There is now mounting pressure on both bricks and mortar and online retailers to deliver profits in an environment that is undergoing increasing change. Technology and eCommerce are disrupting the traditional relationship between manufacturer, distributor, retailer and customer, making it difficult to build long-term plans and even harder to predict how the landscape will change next.
So where should retailers be focusing their efforts in order to drive sales and remain competitive?
Creating consumer engagement is going to be key in this challenge and social shopping should be at the spearhead of any retailer’s efforts. ASOS’s #asseenonme and made.com customer photo’s sharing platform allow customers to show off their products in real-life homes. This gives consumers a chance to see their product considerations in a real-life setting. Voice technology is allowing people to use personal assistants such as Alexa to scan the web for them and take the hard work out of the research phase.
Instagram is rumoured to be bringing out a stand-alone app for shopping called IG Shopping that will allow users to build a collection of merchants to explore and purchase from. High street stores are also diversifying their offering and are creating new in-store experiences with the additions of nail bars and coffee shops to draw in customers and provide something different to their usual shopping experience.
So how will retail evolve in the future? Artificial Intelligence and personalisation are going to be the key drivers in the sector. Corporate ethics and environmentally friendly products and sustainability are going to set the winners apart from the losers. Consumers aren’t content with the cheapest products anymore. They want to have ease of purchase, enhanced experience and also know that the products they’re buying are being created with consideration to sustaining life on this planet! This is going to be a hard act to juggle, but one that must be pursued to stay ahead of the game.