Consumer tastes and behaviours change all the time, and you want to stay on top of retail trends to keep track of those changes. You may want to watch those changes to make relevant adjustments at your store and improve customer experience. Attention spans are at an all-time low, and that means the attention they give your store and products is now shorter than ever.From your web design, payment options, store operations to delivery, you want to optimize shoppers’ experience with your store so they feel good about your store, and about buying your products.
Their tastes about these things, however, change from time to time, and that’s why you need to be conversant with transformations or trends in retail.
Here are five major retail trends for 2019:
1. In-store Artificial Intelligence and robotics
From chatbots to product recommendation technologies, most of the AI use cases in retail today are happening online.
But that’s changing rather quickly. AI is now being used in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s happening already, and fast. Pepper, the in-store shopping assistant, is probably no news to you.
The humanoid robot gets data about shoppers’ locations in a mall and provides them with recommendations and directions — using voice and the tablet you see on its chest in the image above.
You might have heard about what WalMart is doing with WalMart Labs as well, creating in-store technologies that enhance shopping experiences. Recently, they deployed the robot to 50 of 4700+ WalMart stores that help their store attendants (or associates — as they’re usually called) find and address issues with their shelf items.
In-store technologies like these are major improvements we’ll be seeing more of in the retail sector, and they’re a huge part of the future of shopping.
2. Custom chatbots (not just chatbots)
There’s virtually no store now without at least a basic Facebook chatbot.
What this implies is that shoppers have become so familiar with chatbots that they easily ignore them. But if you want a chatbot that shoppers won’t ignore in 2019, it has to do more than the norm.
It needs to be more customized; 53% of shoppers say that’s what they want.
In other words, customers will tune out a chatbot that comes up with something as generic as, “Hello there, why are you here?”
Frankly, such generically themed chatbots will still work, but not as well as personalized ones that are tailored directly to customers — since surveyed customers have expressed a higher preference for personalized experiences.
For example, France-based ecommerce store Sephora has a Facebook chatbot called Color Match for Sephora Virtual Artist. Like many other chatbots, it’s job is to strike up conversations with consumers and eventually drive more sales for Sephora.
But instead of a more generic conversation, the bot scans the face of a customer and recommends makeover colours that fit them best.
That’s a rockstar example of the type of chatbot customization that consumers are looking for; 76% of them expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.
With the continuous rise of immersive technologies like AR/VR, consumer attention is increasingly drifting towards activities, products and designs that immerse or sink them into exciting experiences.
And pop-up shops do a great job creating pleasant experiences for customers.
In other words, their pop-up shop isn’t exactly focused on increasing revenue (even though that may happen at some point), but on increasing customer experience. In your quest for better customer loyalty and experience, you want to pay attention to the tiniest of details — as long as they impact shopping experience — so you impress customers better.
4. Mobile wallets and installment payments
While PayPal and debit/credit cards have been the most preferred payment methods by most shoppers, mobile wallet payments are quickly beginning to win their hearts.
A 2018 study from Salesforce shows that mobile wallets make shopping 85 seconds faster for customers and increases conversions for stores by 100% — a 2x higher conversion rate than stores with only traditional payment methods.
But vendors are not stopping at mobile wallets. To make payments even easier and more convenient for shoppers, many E-commerce stores are allowing customers to pay in installments.
According to a 2019 E-commerce survey by 2Checkout, 32% of merchants would like to introduce credit/debit card payments in installments — and this is already very popular in certain regions.
And it boosts revenue. For instance, online store Tradesy added an installment payment option to her checkout pages and found that “the average order value for shoppers who used [it] to buy was $570 in a year, 103.6% more than the $280 average order value for non-[installment payment] customers.”
Convenient payment methods like these support what consumers keep asking for: a better customer experience. And they decide what “better” is. If they decide installment payments and mobile wallets, for example, are “better” for them, then you want to add those to your checkout pages and increase revenue.
5. Delivery drones
Amazon is currently developing Prime Air “a delivery system from Amazon designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones.”
Given the merchant’s position in the retail space, you can expect that other stores are or will soon be planning towards their own delivery drones. And you should get prepared as well. Sooner or later, delivery drones are probably going to take retail by the storm and become what consumers prefer over other delivery options.
And it makes sense. Consumers are increasingly demanding same day delivery. In fact, seeing consumers’ affinity for products to be delivered the same day they’re ordered, Target bought Shipt — a same day delivery service — for $500 million last year.
Plus, a drone delivery success story has gone far and wide from courier company DHL; they saw a 70% improvement with their first attempt at drone deliveries. And in cases that needed resolutions, they had a 90% success.
By 2028, drones will deliver 40% of parcels in two hours. Stores that begin to use them fast and correctly for deliveries will significantly boost customer experience and improve revenue.
The five retail trends above are worth watching out for in 2019. They form a huge part of what consumers have been responding to these past few months/years and are a strong indicator of what they will keep responding to.
From in-store technologies, custom chatbots to drone deliveries, you now know some of the key elements that catch the attention of shoppers.
No time like the present to get busy and implement them accordingly to fit your store and target customers.