The internet continues to disrupt industries year-after-year, and the retail fashion industry is no different. In 2018, online sales reached record highs, while many retail storefronts shut their doors. Many have called this massive shift to e-commerce the retail apocalypse. While online sales are growing substantially, research shows that e-commerce only makes up 11.9% of all retail sales according to a 2018 study by Shopify. Offline shopping isn’t dead by any means, but it’s crucial that retailers optimize both their online and offline strategies.
Here’s a breakdown of the top retail trends to watch in 2019 to help your retail business succeed.
Omnichannel retail offers customers a variety of ways to purchase products and learn more about your brand. Omnichannel retail can also be described as a multichannel approach to marketing that allows multiple, integrated streams of communication between a client and a company. Omnichannel retail differs from multichannel because omnichannel offers integrated communications and sales points. For example, if a customer submitted a question about an item of clothing via Facebook Messenger, and then decided they wanted to speak to someone about the issue – an omnichannel system would allow the client to then hop on the phone with an agent about the problem without having to repeat the information or wait in a long queue. Similarly, omnichannel sales create multiple purchase points for a customer, for example, a customer could see a pair of gorgeous pink heels in-store and have their correct size shipped to their door. Alternatively, a consumer could purchase shoes online and exchange them in-store for a different pair. Omnichannel retail makes shopping more accessible and personalized for consumers, so it pays to invest in optimizing your omnichannel strategy.
“Omnichannel retail is the only viable response by both traditional and online platforms to the challenges thrown at them,” says Mohammad Ali, CEO of Primaseller in a G2Crowd article.
2. Authentic, culturally representative branding
It’s time to see consumers as citizens with voices who want products that align with their values and culture, rather than consumers. Your brand’s consumers can research your company’s history and track record with the click of a button, so in 2019 it’s essential to take control of the conversation by making your firm’s values clear. It also pays to build up a portfolio of strong product reviews, so that consumers can get objective insights into the quality of your products. Research shows that more than 88% of consumers check a product’s rating online before making a purchase. Similarly, 2017 analysis by Spiegel Research found that almost 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.
3. The rise of experiential retail
While experiential marketing is a longstanding practice, top brands are now making unique experiences a part of the standard in-store experience. In 2019, e-commerce sales will continue to climb as consumers opt for convenience, so retailers will need to create value add propositions for consumers to visit their brick and mortar stores. Companies that continue to see strong in-person sales like Sephora have re-envisioned their stores to create engaging consumer experiences. For example, clients can play with the firm’s virtual reality makeup apps to have a virtual mini makeover, or they can try out the firm’s latest skincare products by having a complimentary 15-minute facial. The Sephora stores also offer in-store “Master Classes” with makeup gurus and a variety of fun, engaging and educational experiences that drive brand loyalty. Other top brands offering immersive retail experiences include Apple, Victoria’s Secret and Samsung.
4. Faster and cheaper shipping from online retailers
Now that most major brands have moved online, the e-commerce competition has reached new highs. Consumers will now evaluate online retailers on many criteria before making a purchase, and one of those critical factors is shipping time. Online shoppers are willing to wait for less for purchases now that Amazon Prime has made express 2-day shipping the new gold standard. Consumers also expect cheaper shipping from e-commerce merchants. According to an Alixpartners Report, three-quarters of consumers say free shipping significantly impacts their online purchase decision.
The times are changing, and retailers that fail to keep up will get left behind. According to research by ZeroHedge, it’s estimated that more than 4000 retailers closed their doors in the U.S, including once hot brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and Crocs. Stay ahead of the curve by watching the above-mentioned retail trends.