It’s shaping up to be a year of disruption and reinvention in 2017. Retail is experiencing major shifts that are driven by changing customer expectations and amplified by the increasingly rapid pace of innovation. In this Spring Trends Quarterly Update, we take a look at how some of the trends we identified in our annual Now, New, Next retail trends report have evolved, driving the retail landscape forward.
- Clearing the Path: Connecting with brands is quicker and easier.
Technology is bringing exciting new developments in frictionless strategies, including basic question-and-answer chatbots, augmented reality-based wayfinding experiences and fully integrated mobile payment systems. It’s all about making her life easier by removing obstacles and pain points and adding new conveniences.
- Abby, a chatbot created for the SXSW Festival, answered over 56,000 questions during the event, ranging from schedule inquiries to local restaurant recommendations.
- Compelling Collaborations: Unique partnerships provide unexpected value—for customers and brands.
Retailers are increasingly adopting unexpected partnership strategies due to their ability to create unique, meaningful value for both customers and retailers. Cutting-edge brands are using collaborations to solve for specific customer needs — going beyond simple marketing promotions to create new and interesting brand experiences.
- Rent the Runway partnered with Neiman Marcus, giving Rent the Runway members the ability to pick up and drop off rented apparel at select Neiman Marcus stores, access a Dream Closet stocked with designer looks and schedule in-store stylist consultations. This increases Rent the Runway’s footprint and gives Neiman Marcus an avenue to reach new customers.
- Genuine Relationships: More meaningful conversations lead to deeper brand-customer engagement.
The influence of social media, cause marketing and changing customer expectations have resulted in a shift to a more equal balance of power in customer/brand conversations. Brands are demonstrating social and cultural awareness in their communications, taking the opportunity to build relationships in deeply meaningful ways, beyond product and service offerings. This is taking the shape of unbranded content sites, genuine cause marketing and organically developed product placements.
- Nordstrom’s Love is a Gift Valentine’s Day campaign tapped into the culturally relevant “love has no barriers” social discussion by featuring the stories of real people and relationships, regardless of sex, race or religion.
- Inside the Box: Retailers are shifting store formats to meet customers’ needs.
Retail is experiencing a massive evolution, with brands evaluating full-service omnichannel experiences, big-box experimentation in small store formats, and an increased focus on off-price retailing. The smartest brands are looking at every aspect of the journey, beyond just digital and physical, putting their customers at the center of their strategies — a critical approach, given today’s environment of store closures and bankruptcies.
- After a successful pilot, Target is rolling out 100 new flexible-format stores in 2017, which provides Target customers with additional pick-up points for online orders, and offers an edited product mix tailored to meet neighborhood needs.
- Up Close and Personal: Creating a one-to-one brand-customer connection.
Unique, personalized experiences are becoming a baseline customer expectation. Sophisticated data analytics have propelled the personalization trend forward across a broad spectrum of applications, from customizing in-the-moment offers to tailored product offerings.
- Urban Outfitters combined customer profiles, location data, push notifications and deep linking in a campaign to promote cocktail dresses. The effort drove a 75% lift in conversions and a 146% increase in revenue.
- Limitless Commerce: Brands are embedding themselves in customers’ everyday lives.
Cutting-edge brands continue to go beyond traditional commerce channels and connect with their customers in imaginative ways. In creating and adopting these strategies, retailers are limited only by their imaginations — and their budgets.
- dubcandy is the first mobile app that enables users/creators to develop shoppable videos that embed the products and enable purchase directly within the video content, closing the gap between content and e-commerce.
For more on these trends and to access the full 2017 Now, New, Next report, please visit KnowMoreSellMore.com/insights-news.