Towards the retail of 2019
The retail sector has been experiencing major changes for years due to evolving consumer habits and changes in purchasing dynamics. In this respect, we will continue to see trends in the sector in 2019 that may be especially relevant if retailers and brands take a step forward and decide to focus on new technologies and the consumer of the future.
Within the trends that we are going to see in 2019, we can clearly differentiate two alternative approaches: the strategic and the technological aspect, the latter supporting the former.
Changes at a strategic level are marked by changes in consumer purchasing habits, while changes at a technological level will try to meet the new expectations that customers have to buy any product or service.
Strategic focus in retail in 2019
Focus on the customer experience
The customer experience has become one of the key elements in planning new spaces and points of sale. If there is one aspect in which physical stores can differentiate themselves from the online channel, this is undoubtedly the case.
The customer experience must be focused on two key points: earning their loyalty and getting them to buy. In this regard, plans are being developed to surprise consumers and guide them better throughout the purchasing process.
Reduce friction in payment
Purchase completion is experiencing a revolution as has never been seen before. Contactless technology and mobile payment have greatly reduced the friction at check out, but we are already experimenting with technologies that further reduce this friction to make it imperceptible to the consumer, such as paying through facial recognition, which is already being implemented in China.
Sustainability and the environment
The consumer of today is more informed and aware than ever. For this reason, sustainability and protection of both the environment and diversity have become focal points and relevant values for all companies in the retail sector.
It is no longer just about offering good products and services for our customers, but also for the world. Therefore, the promotion of sustainable production and the circular economy will continue to gain ground among the retail sector’s values.
Mobile devices as allies
Due to the competition provided by the online channel, technology has always been perceived as “the enemy” by traditional retail, when it can actually be a great ally.
The mobile phone in particular, having become people’s main communication device, is a tool that is always in our customers’ pocket or bag. Thanks to this, any visitor can share at any time anything that catches their attention or surprises them
Currently, part of the creation of a unique and innovative shopping experience is to offer experiences that can be easily shared through photos and social media. Stores are beginning to realise this and we are increasingly seeing approaches that seek consumer involvement and dissemination through their networks.
Technological trends in retail in 2019
Virtual reality and augmented reality
Virtual and augmented reality are terms with which the new generations are becoming increasingly familiar. This opens up numerous possibilities not only to surprise consumers, but to create new shopping experiences that are completely immersive or personalised.
Artificial intelligence applied to retail makes it possible to study consumer habits to predict future purchase patterns, allowing the retailer to offer personalised products that meet the consumer’s profile based on previous experiences.
Virtual assistants: Chatbots + Voice technology
Smart assistants are gaining an increasing presence in homes. This will cause users to get used to a different way of interacting with technology: with their voice. Therefore, it will be increasingly important to consider the use of these technologies to help our customers in the purchase process.
IoT: Internet of Things
The integration of the Internet of Things in our stores helps us automate the purchasing process, collect data in real time to better understand our customers and adapt shopping strategies immediately.
Big Data and Business Intelligence
Information about our business is increasingly important and one of the key elements to achieve the success of our stores. In this respect, the application of Business Intelligence on the data that we can extract from our business allows us to analyse trends and interpret predictive models which helps us to make better decisions in the business environment, improving results and optimising processes.
Will 2019 be the year of technological disruption in retail?
We have caught sight of some of these trends for several years, but the time for the arrival of standardisation is not over. We are in a transition period in which people are developing new consumption habits that are continuously modified by the emergence of new technologies.
Retail is trying to adapt to all these trends, but assuming the same pace of these changes is not easy. However, we have been shown in recent years that companies and brands that dare to innovate gain a competitive advantage that sets them apart from the pack and brings them closer to success.
In this respect, retailers must ask themselves what they want and how technology can help them, not just implement solutions at random because it has caught their attention. Technology must always be the means and not the end. Likewise, consulting would be essential in this point.
This is the reason why at HMY we not only offer innovation in shelving and technological solutions, but also advice that allows us to take better advantage of the space and the possibilities of the establishments based on the customers’ real needs.
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