It is that time of the year where retail takes the forefront, courtesy the festive and holiday shopping extravaganza created by retail brands to entice shoppers and ring in more sales. And as the year draws to a close with the buzz around the New Year’s curtain raiser, it is time for retailers to peek into the crystal ball of the future and get a preview of the trends that could prove to be the game-changers in the year 2018 and beyond.
Predictions of what lies ahead for retail in 2018 are already doing the rounds and it is no surprise that Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual & Augmented Reality i.e. VR and AR, Internet of Things or IoT, self-checkouts, drone based delivery, and so on, would appear in most lists. The fact of the matter is that these technologies have already begun impacting the retail sector and 2018 will see this impact intensifying multifold. As such, retail businesses must look to invest in some or all of them if necessary to keep up with the trend.
Having said that, going into 2018 most retailers will still need to work on some extremely vital aspects as these will not be mere trends but rather a necessity and benchmarks for customers to pick and choose the brands they would like to associate themselves with.
The 3 important aspects are:
Omni-channel: The top priority for most retailers will be to streamline their businesses in-order to offer a unified omni-channel customer experience. So whether it is adding new channels or integrating systems, operations, processes or handling supply-chain and omni-channel fulfillment or providing features like click-and-collect & endless aisle, retailers must get it right in omni-channel retail using the right omni-channel retail solutions.
Mobility: Based on the data from the major shopping events in 2017, mobile proved to be a force to reckon with. As mobile shopping has become a new norm, retailers looking to ‘omni-channelize’ their businesses need to integrate this channel seamlessly. Other aspects of mobility such as mobile payments and mobile POS systems would continue to be essential technologies that retailers would need to keenly invest in.
Analytics: The power of big-data analytics is something every industry has recognized and so is the case with retail. However going into 2018, analytics will have to be woven into the fabric of the retail business through the right technology to enable retailers to take important business and strategic decisions as well has help in planning promotions, providing personalization and planning seasons ahead.
Like in 2017, even in the New Year, retail will be customer-driven. Retailers must realize and appreciate the importance of focusing on the customer rather than the products, the channels and other aspects. As such, customer-centricity must run deep down in the DNA of their business to have a Happy and Prosperous New Year 2018!