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Top Retail Trends for 2019

Ryan Willis

The end of the year is fast approaching as we steadily creep into another year of innovation and new technology. But with tech fast becoming an integral part of day-to-day life, how will these advances impact the landscape of retail over the coming year?

Experiential Shopping

As online shopping becomes ever more popular, bricks and mortar shops are having to find their own niche when it comes to attracting customers. The good news is that, with ‘things’ becoming increasingly replaceable, customers will value experiences far more highly in 2019. In fact, customer intelligence consultants Walker say that customer experience will become more important than both price and product in just two years. If shops can harness this trend for experiential shopping – with in-store live demonstrations, product testing, courses, talks and other relevant experiences – they should have no trouble keeping up with online retailers.

IoT

That being said, some ‘things’ will still be going strong in 2019. The ‘internet of things’ - physical devices and home appliances connected via the internet - continues to have a huge impact on the retail landscape. Devices like the Amazon Alexa might be dominating home shopping, but IoT will move into the physical shopping experience too, with more stores adopting Bluetooth beacons to connect to customer smartphones, attracting them in store and broadcasting personalised advertising.

Social Media

When it comes to choosing where to shop, customers will rely even more on social media in 2019. Not only does social media provide reliable reviews and word-of-mouth marketing, but customers are also increasingly expecting to have genuine engagement and meaningful interaction with the brands they choose to support. A survey of consumers showed that 53% of customers prefer to shop with businesses they can talk to on Facebook. Over the next year, brands will be expected to develop ways they can connect and advertise over direct messaging, as well as connecting social media to in-store experiences.

Cognitive Computing and AI

With customer experience growing in importance, many leading brands are also looking into ways they can use cognitive computing and AI to enhance CX in a retail environment. 2019 looks set to welcome in-store computers and robotics with the ability to comprehend natural language, learn user needs and assist customers in the same way that a human representative would. Hilton has already welcomed one such assistant in the shape of ‘Connie’, a concierge robot who uses machine learning and AI technology to greet and assist hotel guests.

Personalisation and Customisation

Personalisation has been a growing trend in retail for a good few years, but 2019 is expected to hail the beginning of customisation of the entire shopping experience as well as the product. Customers expect to choose how they shop, which channels they want to use to connect with a brand, and how they can customise the product they are buying. At the same time, however, customers are becoming ever more aware (and wary) of how their personal data is being stored and used, so retailers will have to find a delicate balance between tailoring preferences without making customers feel uncomfortable. 

CSR and ‘Deep Connections’

If you could choose buzzwords for retail in 2019, ‘responsible’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘cruelty-free’ and ‘diverse’ would all be high on the list. In today’s information society, customers are becoming more aware of the impact of consumerism and are progressively turning to brands who can display demonstrable social and environmental responsibility. Customers also expect to have a ‘deep connection’ with brands they choose to support and will not engage with a brand whose values or ethos they cannot access or relate to.

Retail is constantly evolving to fit the consumer and that looks like continuing in 2019. We’re looking forward to seeing what the new year brings in terms of experiences, technology and the retail space as a whole.

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