It has been a long and cold winter for the United States and the numbers show that it has been a challenging season for many retailers. Retail sales rose by .2% in February and shows that the retail industry is slowly emerging from the winter freeze. So as the first day of spring comes and goes, what are the retail trends we expect to see this Spring?
Transformation – Expect to see retailers continuing to transform their in store experiences. Service companies are selling into retail, Store in store is becoming more viable, and in store media/content is exploding. A retailer’s greatest competition, online, continues to put pressure on brick and mortar stores for consumer’s attention. Fears over “showrooming” and falling giants (remember Blockbuster?) are pushing retailers to innovate and change the traditional shopping experience. Retailers who do not continue to elevate the guest experience could continue to be challenged.
Mobile! – So consumers may not be using mobile payments (yet) like so many predicted a few years ago, but that doesn’t mean that mobile doesn’t have a place in brick and mortar stores. Geo location services that ping consumer cell phones with offers when they enter a store are expected to rise this spring. Mobile can significantly impact sales when used to supplement the shopping experience. QR codes on packaging, interactive videos, and entertaining content enhances the store experience by blurring the line between online and physical locations. Social media and check in specials will continue to rise, motivating shoppers to share their experiences with family and friends in exchange for promotions. Look for more mobile integration, personalization, social media tie ins, and geo location services in store.
Local, Organic, and Sustainable – A growing niche in the retail industry is the environmentally conscious consumer. Selling sustainable and unique goods is on trend. Look at the massive growth in local farmers markets over the last few years. Consumers want unique and artesian products. Moreover, they often are willing to spend more for these items. Retailers are beginning to recognize this more as a lasting shift than a fad. Expect to see more space cut out in your local stores for these sustainable items and the growth of private/independent labels.
SALE! SALE! SALE! – Consumers love sales. The slow and sensitive economic recovery has seen the birth of a new breed of consumer. Consumers are more price savvy and they have more tools at their hands than ever. They can check prices in store against online retailers and pick the best option available to them. With the rise in “next day shipping” consumers are not as apt to buy items in store simply because of immediate gratification. Successful retailers will be conscious of this change and will fight to make brick and mortar prices competitive with their online counterparts.
Certain industries will need to listen to consumers and focus on sales promotions more than others. Take the clothing industry for example. Fashion has little hold on consumers with less than 20% saying that new trends and styles are important to them. So how can clothing retailers get consumer attention? Well, nearly 70% of consumers say that they usually buy clothing when it’s on sale. With summer heating up, this could be the spring of sales for the clothing industry.
Omni-Channel Integration – We are attached to our phones and studies show that we expect retailers to cater to that. Looking up item locations while in store, mobile coupons, free online to store pick up, and social media experience are among the features that consumers are looking for. Retailers that fail to embrace this trend risk looking outdated and stale in the eyes of the tech savvy consumer.
Loyalty? You don’t even know me! – Everyone has a loyalty program and after giving their data to stores for years, consumers are ready for a change. Shoppers want a more personalized experience in exchange for all of their data. Personalized offerings have an exponentially higher return than generic offers. If retailers want consumers to keep signing up for loyalty programs they need to be more intuitive with their data. Consumer’s expect retailers to know them and to link offerings to what they need and want.
Research shows that consumers are becoming more careful with how they spend their extra money. The biggest trend this spring is the “Power to the Consumer”. All across the board, shoppers want retailers to listen to them and the winners this year already have their ears perked up.
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Survey Source: NRF Foundation Retail Motivators Survey -http://research.nrffoundation.com/Default.aspx?pg=18#.UzPm2vldVb4
Topic: Consumer Electronics Market Research