Though there’s no doubt we’re still a nation that needs to be careful with its cash, the dark clouds of recent austerity are starting to float away to reveal a more optimistic, more promising future.
We’re not out of the woods yet, for sure, and the vast majority of people still feel we’re in a recession, but market confidence is starting to return and the masses are beginning, albeit cautiously, to dip into their wallets again.
This change in consumer attitude is also being complimented by the raft of new technology designed to make the shopping experience more accessible, convenient and fun. Peaks and troughs and trends are prevalent in practically every element of society – and retail is absolutely no different.
Here we have 10 retail trends that will change the way you shop over the coming year.
1. Mobile goes mainstream
eCommerce has been growing exponentially over the past few years, and the shift is continuing in the way consumers are choosing to buy products. There’s a gradual slide from people using their desktop or laptops to making purchases on their tablet or iPhone. Experts have predicted this flip in technology usage will continue dramatically in 2014.
2. Decrease in delivery times
The majority of online retailers send and ship goods at no extra charge, and this will be made even better with the drive to shorten delivery times as well. Amazon has offered its Prime customers 48 hour shipping for quite a few years, and the intention is to aim for same-day delivery in some sectors, whilst others let you pick up items yourself within a few hours of ordering it.
3. Personalising the experience
Mass customisation – or the ability to personalise everything – is becoming the direct result of significant advances in technology, and it gives an extra edge for retailers to make the shopping experience the customers’ own. Clothing and shoe giant Nike, for example, has proven that customers are prepared to pay extra for more bespoke items that allow them to create products to their own specifications, features, size, and colours.
4. New outlet stores
There’s no question that the modern shopper is a canny shopper, both brand-savvy and cost-conscious. Consequently, outlet stores are back in fashion – and retailers are paying attention. In the UK, we’ve already got several, very popular and financially successful retail outlets – Clarks Village in Somerset, Swindon’s Designer Outlet, Wales’ Festival Park – and this is set to continue growing.
5. Your phone is your wallet
Mobile wallets might be thing of the – perhaps not-too-distant – future, but the major retailers are happily prepared to embrace them into the retail fold. Progenitors of mobile wallet technology and services are expected to join forces, leaving the big boys of Google and PayPal to find other routes with shoppers, whilst there might be some nifty perks for those prepared to try out this evolving technology.
6. Bigger isn’t always better
To contradict the age-old epithet, size doesn’t always matter – and certainly not in the constantly fluctuating retail universe. Even the biggest companies on the high street still find it practically impossible to compete with the virtual warehouse behemoth that is Amazon. High street stores are increasingly working better on a more intimate, personal level in synch with their mobile counterparts.
7. High tech coupons
For too long the coupon has been the domain of septuagenarian blue rinses holding up queue by paying for cat food and Werthers with 20p discount tokens. Everyone likes to save a few pounds, and technology allows you to download all kinds of coupons onto your phones and scan them at the till before you make a purchase. Vouchercloud, for example, has a constantly changing cornucopia of online vouchers.
8. Beyond the local grocery store
Every independent shop nowadays proudly trumpets the victories of its products being locally sourced, organically produced and ethically procured – and this pervasive trend is beginning to seep into the retail space consciousness too. Shoppers like the personal, non-mass-produced touch, and retailers are increasingly tapping into this mind-set and proving that local shopping can help the local economy thrive.
9. Better in-store experience
Show-rooming used to a popular and tangible way for shoppers to see, touch and test products in-store – and now retailers are finding ways to differentiate the in-store experience from the online one. Some stores, for example, are offering in-store only products, services and events with the sole intention of keeping customers in the store and getting them to part with their cash whilst there. Research has shown that a whopping 80% of customer would be happy to pay a little more for a product that made them feel part of a shopping experience.
10. Dynamic pricing
Every industry worth its salt will use the most significant sources of data to engage customers and maximise profit. Traditionally, retailers have hiked up prices during busy periods and slashed them during quieter ones, but the immediacy of information available today means they can adjust pricing methods in a real-time and relevant manner. For example, as well as adapting prices to demand, retailers can use technology such as geo-targeting to base pricing factors on aspects such as consumer history and geography.
These are ten of the most hotly-tipped retail trends for the year ahead that are sure to change the way consumer shop over the next twelve months. Are you aware of any others? Share your comments below.