Editor's View August 2017

What One You Can’t Have Without The Other

We’ve written a lot about product design and trends, and how consumer preferences affect their product purchases. But the road to success for retailers today is only 50 percent about the products. The other half of the equation has to do with keeping up with technologies that facilitate retail processes and consumer data analysis.

An article detailing 2017 retail trends on vendhq.com (Vend is a retail management software company) explores techniques that need to be embraced in both brick-and-mortar and online to achieve retail success today. Many of the growing trends involve incorporating technologies geared toward analyzing and serving the consumer. Here is a brief rundown on some of 2017 trends in retailing:

• Product quality, transparency and sustainability are characteristics of companies bound for success today. Consumers are increasingly concerned with where their money is going and not just what it’s buying. They are looking for brands with a deeper sense o f identity.

• In the brick-and-mortar venue, smaller stores and specialty shops have a leg up today. They are better at satisfying consumer—especially Millennial—cravings for artisanal products and specialized selections. They are also perceived to have more knowledgeable staffs and more personalized service. Larger stores are getting into the act on the specialized product level by creating shops within the stores.

• To draw customers into brick-and-mortar spaces, the concept of creating a “shopping experience” is still the way to go.
“Retailtainment” is Vend’s word for an in-store shopping experience that offers something fun to see or do. But the shopping experience can also incorporate technology. Vend cites Crate and Barrel’s Mobile Tote as one way to bring online shopping ease into brick-and-mortar. Customers take a store-provided tablet that scans barcodes and accesses product information, and helps them create a wish list as they shop.

• Using technologies to create seamless, quick and convenient purchasing processes is a necessity for succcess.
Mobile payment solutions, including third-party options such as Apple Pay, special retailer apps and “contactless transactions” in which only a tap is required to buy will become more commonplace.

• Personalization will become more important, not only in product offerings and in face-to-face interaction, but as a goal in using technology to ascertain a customer’s preferences and deliver options tailored to him or her, especially on mobile devices. Many retailers are sending survey questionnaires to find out their customers’ preferences and anticipate what they might like to buy, influencing retail buyer decisions. More personalized loyalty and incentive programs are also on the horizon.

Omnichannel retailing is becoming the standard today, and data accumulation and analysis gathered from varied retail venues on customers’ likes will be used more and more to shape the retail process, from supply chain to post-puchase follow-up.

Products, displays, marketing, merchandising, supplier relationships, distribution and shipping channels, and personal interaction are all important aspects of retail success. But in today’s digital world, retail and technology are becoming inseparable—you won’t have the one without the other.