By Joshua Stanphill, ISV business development manager – strategic accounts, Epson America Featuring Nicola Fahy, marketing manager, Vend
Here are the top three trends happening in retail this year and our predictions for what’s going to be big next year.
As 2018 is coming to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the top IT trends that impacted retailers this year and consider what’s ahead for 2019. I spoke with retail management platform Vend for their insights on the biggest changes they're seeing in retail right now and beyond.
Amazon isn’t the only retailer making chore shopping easier: Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Best Buy, Office Depot and OfficeMax, Staples, Macy’s, FTD, Godiva and several grocery chains are following suit. Third-party companies like Instacart are playing a key role in the same-day delivery trend, supporting merchants like Whole Foods, Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Petco and Publix with fast fulfillment.
Per the IHL Group study, for each company closing a store, 2.7 companies are opening stores. Nicola Fahy, marketing manager at Vend, says she’s seen this trend play out in several ways over the past year, especially in the artisan community. “One example that comes to mind is Limbo Jewelry, a boutique retailer that started as a pop-up shop in Austin’s SoCo shopping district in 2003 and now has a storefront in SoCo and one in North Austin. The merchant, which is owned and operated by a husband-and-wife team, not only offers a unique variety of jewelry, but they bring in a lipstick bar for patrons to experience during the holiday season. The merchant also sells other merchandise that’s made in Austin, such as pottery, t-shirts and art prints which adds to the customer shopping experience.”
Shinola is another example of a boutique retailer that’s carved out a lucrative niche selling items such as wristwatches, leather bags and belts, bikes, iPhone cases, pocket knives, and varsity jackets. “Not only do they offer customized products that are made in Detroit; they offer an in-store experience that’s much different from a typical department store,” says Fahy. “In just seven years, the retailer has expanded to 34 stores and a few big-name retailers like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s are reselling its products.”
When a customer makes a purchase, Tan selects the item from a dropdown menu on the iPad and multiplies the price-per-pound by the weight. In addition to being able to quickly see his sales at the end of each day, the app provides him with lots of other useful data points such as the top selling fish, how quickly a particular fish sells out each day, and it gives him customer profile insights. Tan admits that the software sometimes reveals surprising insights about customers’ preferences. “I used to order a lot of the ikan kuning [fish] when I’m at the port, because I thought it sold really quickly,” he says, referring to an inexpensive fish. When he reviewed the hourly data, however, he was surprised to find that the leather jacket, which was a slightly pricier fish, sold out faster.
What’s in Store for Retailers in 2019?
In Vend’s 2019 Retail Trends and Predictions report, they see many of the 2018 trends continuing as well as several new trends emerging. Here are a few highlights from their report:
Nordstrom is another company that’s embracing the concept store model with its Nordstrom Local stores, which are small-footprint, inventory-free retail hubs that excel in experience rather than racks and racks of clothes. “The concept stores feature customer service reps who consult with customers and help them pick out a new wardrobe, size a suit, or they can visit an on-site seamstress who can make alterations to an outfit,” says Fahy. “While they’re waiting to meet with a customer service rep, customers can enjoy a manicure or pedicure along with a glass of wine, beer or gourmet juice.”
She adds that, “Customer needs are dynamic and in order to meet those changing needs, retailers need engaging employees at all levels of the organization, especially in the field and on the sales floor.”
Final Thoughts: The Only Constant is Change
If you look at all the key trends happening within retail right now, they can all be summed up in one word: adaptation. The retailers that have stumbled and either closed some or all of their stores in recent years were the ones who were unwilling or unable to adapt to their customers’ changing needs. While it’s impossible to predict the exact future of retail, there is a group of people who have that information for your company and they’re willing to share it if you’re willing to listen — your customers.