2015 was an interesting year for retail, with the launch of some really innovative and game changing technologies, and a continued shift in retail trends. We saw the long anticipated launch of Apple Pay in the UK, Amazon Prime Air promised to deliver packages in under 30 minutes using drones, Black Friday became a week-long event, unboxing videos officially became a trend, helped in no small part by the launch of the new Star Wars movie, and wearable tech can now be considered mainstream.
Consumer habits continue to change with a steady rise in online shopping, and social media is playing an increasingly important role in eCommerce. Amazon remains a force to be reckoned with, accounting for over 51% of all web sales over Black Friday in the US, and in huge contrast with last year, this year’s Black Friday event saw more people shopping online than queueing up outside brick and mortar shops.
With so much happening in 2015, what do retailers need to take notice of in 2016? Below, we give you our top 5 retail trends for 2016.
1. Micro Moment Marketing
Moment Marketing is a topic that we have already covered on our blog, and will continue to talk about in the year ahead. Moment Marketing highlights the significance of digital research in the consumer purchasing journey, dating back to 2011 when Google introduced the Zero Moment of Truth. With the rise of smartphones, consumers now experience a variety of ‘Micro Moments’, which are moments during the day that inspire a search based on a question the consumer needs answering, which brands can capture through Moment Marketing.
Google identifies three key steps to delivering on customer expectation and winning Moments:
1. Be There: Be visible across all stages of the purchase journey.
2. Be Useful: Offer practical, informational content and frame it in a way that clearly answers questions.
3. Be Quick: Communicate the information concisely and ensure your site or app is quick to load and easily navigable via any device.
In 2016, we can expect to see retailers take notice of Moment Marketing and fulfil customer expectations by being present during the crucial Micro Moments. Our blog will feature a lot of useful information about Moment Marketing and Micro Moments, so to make sure you don’t miss out, subscribe to receive articles straight to your inbox.
2. Leveraging Fun Tech
From wearable technology, to augmented or virtual reality, ibeacons and the internet of things (IoT), in 2016 merchants of all sizes should look into ways they can leverage technology to enhance the shopping experience.
Mobiles are just the beginning. In addition to using mPOS systems, and in-store tablets, we can expect to see retailers embracing technology such as in-store devices to automatically ring up customers, track real-time shopping behaviours and send tailored offers to customers. Location-based beacons, digital signage, and sensors will be joined by innovations such as smart price tags that can change prices in real-time, mirrors that allow shoppers to virtually try on clothes, and packaging that monitors how old fresh goods are and alert you when they are coming to the end of their shelf life, and these are just some of the ways we can expect the retail industry to embrace technology.
The brick and mortar business is very much alive, and by embracing fun technologies, merchants can ensure they provide a consistently enjoyable and efficient experience both online and offline.
3. Social Media to Drive eCommerce
Social media has been playing an important role in the shopping journey for some time now, and this was ever more apparent in 2015 with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest introducing ‘buy’ buttons. As we live in an increasingly on-demand economy where consumers want to purchase the product they see immediately, we can expect even more social apps to get into the game with Snapchat and Instagram being the logical likely contenders.
In fact, social media is no longer simply a platform that brands can utilise for community building and brand promotion, but now these apps rival search engines in their own right and this will become even more apparent as the year progresses. Consumers increasingly use social media platforms, particularly image led ones such as Pinterest and Instagram, to browse, share and purchase products, without ever visiting a search engine like Google or Bing during this process. This makes social advertising even more important in 2016.
Social selling solutions like Soldsie, a solution that allows retailers to implement comment selling on Instagram, and Like2Buy (user generated content galleries) are already proving popular, and we can expect more of these to enter the market in 2016.
4. More Payment Options from Retailers
The payments landscape is changing fast – where retailers once only had to worry about cash or card payments, the modern retailer needs to cater to digitally empowered consumers, whose expectations have been transformed and who now demand that payments be fast, convenient and hassle-free.
2015 really kicked things off with a plethora of mobile payment innovations being introduced, including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Android Pay. Contactless payment in the UK is no longer a novelty and retailers who fail to deliver on this front will undoubtedly fall behind.
In the year ahead, we can expect to see more stores accepting additional payment methods, most notably mobile payments. Smart retailers will be looking beyond mobile payments, and thinking about how this can be integrated with other growing trends, including proximity marketing and wearable tech, to provide better customer experiences and improve loyalty programmes.
5. Data Gets Bigger
Making the most of the overwhelming amount of data continues to be top of mind for merchants, and this trend will only continue in the year ahead. Smart retailers are continuously looking for ways to make the most out of their data, and increasingly looking for how they can combine data from traditional sources such as sales transactions with newer sources such as social media, product reviews, weather reports, and data collected from all the connected ‘things’ to unlock new insights.
Unlocking such insights will enable retailers to get to know their customers better, allowing them to tailor services to customer desires, as well as better forecasting stock levels based on consumer buying habits and even developing products according to this data. No doubt smart retailers will utilise this data and insight to perfect their loyalty and rewards schemes. Simply implementing rewards is not enough to stay competitive anymore, the retailers that will win are those that offer personalised rewards and messages that strengthen the customer relationship and enhance the shopping experience, while making the day-to-day operations easier for merchants.
In 2016, we can expect retailers to continue to make advancements in how they analyse data, in order to offer better personalised services and improve on customer loyalty. At mporium, we strongly believe in using data to improve personalisation and loyalty, which is why our mporium insights product was developed to help businesses better understand their customers.
These are the top 5 retail trends for 2016 that we believe should be top of mind for retailers. Let us know if you agree with our thoughts, simply comment below or get in touch via social media. And don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to receive new articles straight to your inbox.