Written by One Step Retail's Blog Team
What's next for retail?
The reports are out, and experts nationwide have made their retail predictions for 2018. We’ve taken the time to compile the key points retailers are making about the trends that will be causing waves in retail this year.
Technology Trends | Part 1 of Series
1. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE- Offering Data-Driven Personalization to the Customer
"At retail, AI promises speedier processing of enormous mounds of data; companies look forward to the possibility of using AI to suggest data queries and possible outcomes, and to optimize execution of sales, customer relationship management, shopper recommendations, manufacturing, logistics, and payments."— Susan Reda, STORES NRF Magazine
"AI offers the ability to exploit the data gathered from customers and their preferences to personalize their shopping experience… multi-channel retailers are already experimenting with AI to offer purchasing suggestions based on short surveys and purchase history."— Jeff Neville, Boston Retail Partners
2. AUGMENTED REALITY- Empowering Customers to Try Before they Buy
"Gartner has predicted that 100 million consumers will shop via AR by 2020… The beauty of AR is the role it plays in providing information and insight to support buying decisions."— Susan Reda, STORES NRF Magazine
"... the ability for customers to ‘try before you buy’ will result in a reduction in churn, one of the major pain points for retailers… AR allows customers to see an item in-store and then project it realistically back at home [in reference to furniture] before finalizing the process by placing the order online. Such omnichannel experiences will make in-person shopping a value to the consumer and help retailers avoid churn."— Alice Bonasio, Tech Trends
3. Voice-Driven Technology - Becoming the Norm in Convenient Shopping
"Voice assistants are replacing traditional search engines and offer an easy hands-free way to shop, especially for basics. Retailers need to accelerate their plans to integrate their offerings with voice-assisted technology to meet this demand"— Jeff Neville, Boston Retail Partners
"Walker Sands' 2017 "Future of Retail" study reports that one in five U.S. customers have made a voice purchase through Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant, and another third plan to do so in the next year. ComScore research forecasts 50 percent of all searches will be via voice by 2020... Retailers need to raise their voice skills — shoppers are talking."— Susan Reda, STORES NRF Magazine
4. Mobile Engagement - Driving Conversions Now and in the Future
"Mobile devices, including those as part of automobiles and other non-traditional sources will dominate transactions in the future."— Robert Hetu, Gartner Retail Industry Services
"Another key area that retailers continue to work on is mobile engagement. Mobile conversion is half of the desktop conversion. As traffic drives more and more toward mobile, you cannot just stand pat. Retailers need to find a way to drive that mobile experience to the next level otherwise sales will suffer."— Sahal Laher, Destination XL Group
5. Digital Transformation - Creating Unique Experiences
"2017 was the year of digital discovery; 2018 will be the year of technology and more integration of it into mainstream retail. It will be the year where we see retailers create new operating models that are less focused on their store vs the web and more focused on creating experiences that give customers more control and convenient ways to shop… The acceptance of omnichannel trade and digital –savvy merchandising is a requirement for success. However, it is not only acceptance of new ideas, but also the need to review old systems and procedures. Store operations and mindsets must change."— Walter Loeb, Loeb Associates Inc.
"The trick for retailers will be to focus their technology firepower on creating unique experiences. Lowe’s relies on AR and VR to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience to its do-it-yourself shoppers; Sephora focuses on creating meaningful customer connections and a customized approach to beauty with best-in-class digital tools: Its new smaller footprint Sephora Studio is the first to offer what the beauty retailer calls a 75 minute ‘Custom Makeover Plus’."— Susan Reda, STORES NRF Magazine
Summary Note: It is all about the customer.
This year retail experts expect to see a variety of trends make waves in the retail industry. Everything from AI to Big Data to trends not mentioned above such as IoT, Showrooming, and Voice Assist will be changing the way retailers are doing business with one end goal prevailing above all others— enhancing the customer experience. Retailers looking to prevail in 2018 must put the customer first. Customers want more than just a product they want an experience. They want a reason to come back time and time again. Retailers who understand this and invest in finding creative pathways to give their customers these experiences will thrive in the years to come.
Is your retail business ready for 2018 and beyond?
Let One Step help. Learn more about our retail management POS systems, inventory planning, retail consulting and managed IT services. We'd love the opportunity to show you how we can help you enhance your customers’ experiences in 2018 and in the future.