Changes in the retail environment have been drastic over the last few years. As consumer expectations evolve, so must the customer experience.
As the integration of the digital and physical world continues, brands need to evolve to catch up. By constantly rethinking the way we shop and anticipating the trends for the future, brands can stay one-step ahead. Embracing this will help retailers thrive this year and beyond. Here are some trends we expect to see along that journey.
Brand will prioritise in-store investment over ecommerce
M-Cube research found that 67% of marketers are investing in more engaging in-store experiences to attract people back to the high street. What this reveals is that brands are shifting away from the online focus that has dominated retail in recent years, and investing in engaging in-store experiences more than ever before. Although ecommerce will continue to thrive, the high-street is certainly not dying, it is being reborn.
Shoppers will become more independent shoppers due to digital solutions
Consumers have become accustomed to the independence that ecommerce shopping permits. As a result, digital solutions in stores have become more common, and this is a trend that is expected to continue to rise. As the use of digital solutions increases, retail workers will need to understand how to operate these systems. This means more skilled staff will be needed throughout retail, changing the nature of job roles in the industry.
The high-street will be about more than just shopping
Although the pandemic accelerated the ecommerce industry, lockdown taught us one thing: people crave human interaction, connection and moments to remember. That’s why – with the high-street now open again – brands will embrace ‘experience retail’. By evolving its physical offering to combine aspects such as retail, music, dining, and entertainment – retailers are learning that ‘going big or going home’ is crucial in today’s competitive market.
Online retailers will invest in physical stores
As the highstreet evolves, more online retailers will invest in creating physical spaces. These ideas can already be seen with Amazon’s latest rollout of its Amazon Fresh stores. Designed to reflect the online experience, customers can pick up their goods, pop them in the ‘virtual basket’ and simply walk out of the store without having to physically pay. It has the semblance of the old high-street but the convenience and sustainability of a cashless world.
In-store omnichannel will be crucial
The structure of a successful retail business model isn’t what it used to be. There are a lot of moving elements, meaning in-store omnichannel will no longer be a ‘nice-to-have’ but crucial to attracting the modern customer. Creating a strong omnichannel experience allows businesses to personalise experiences for all of their customers. Going forward, every single channel and touchpoint needs to be maximised. Each channel will be a new opportunity for retailers to provide the best possible service for their customers.
Accommodations will be made for Gen-Z
To get Gen-Zs back into physical stores, retailers need to make it more of an experience as the products alone are no longer enough to sway customers. Younger generations are known for being digital natives, who enjoy the speed and convenience that ecommerce offers. That’s why it’s crucial brands bring the advantages of the online world into the physical stores, and create a social space that Gen-Zs are excited about.
Retailers will explore the impact of Big Data and Metaverse on customer experiences
As the physical and the digital world continue to come together in the next decade, we will see retailers use AI to optimise and personalise customer experiences. A report from Accenture confirmed that 86% of organisations have adapted to the disruption of the pandemic and found the new normal. This will continue to be the trend in 2023 with the use of AI and Big Data and the impact of the ‘metaverse.’
Inflation will create cost-conscious customers
As a recession looms, consumers will be more cost-conscious. To combat this, retailers will have to put in more effort to ensure that customers stay loyal. Retail sales decreased by 1.6% in August which is indicative of future sales in 2023. This means retailers will have to pull out all the stops to attract customers and ensure that their purchases are worth the money. The next year will see an increase in installation of digital signage in stores and the addition of social areas in shops which will provide well-rounded shopping and social experiences.
Brands will prioritise brand identity and the ‘perfect sound’
Brands will think more about their personas and what they want to embody, and reflect this in their audio systems. The curation of music, from song choice to vibe, should immediately strike a tone with the customer. For example, it could be smooth background music to create a calming and sensual presence that reflects the nature of the brand. Or, it could be intentionally audible and upbeat, offering beats to get the customer excited for their in-store experience. Not only does it mean the customer gets what the brand is trying to do, but it also means you’re more likely to attract customers whose personalities match up with the brand.
The bottom line
There’s no doubt that brands need to ensure that they are up-to-date on current trends or they risk losing customers. These include transforming their physical stores into social hubs, creating personalised experiences or curating their ‘perfect sound’ to differentiate from other retailers.
Customers will find that their experiences are more personalised, more interactive and more autonomous. In order to stand out in today’s competitive and crowded market, brands not only need to jump on these trends, but go above and beyond.