The demise of retail has been greatly exaggerated, as the 2018 holiday shopping season proves: 2018 holiday sales soar to 6-year high.
Overall, in 2018 physical retail stores enjoyed a net gain of over 10,000 locationscompared to 2017. Over half (51 percent) of small business owners now have e-commerce sites, up 7 percentage points from 2017, according to Bank of America’s 2018 Small Business Payments Spotlight.
Whether you sell online, in a store, or both, here are six hot retail trends you should know about for 2019.
1. Experiential retail
Why do consumers still go to brick-and-mortar stores when there are so many convenient online options? According to Oracle, shoppers in all demographics cite the same
top two reasons:
1) they don’t want to wait for products to be shipped.
2) they want to see, touch and try products before they make a purchase. Retail stores have the
potential to offer an experience that makes browsing and shopping fun.
Think of ways to make your store a sensory experience with sight, sound, smell and touch. Hold events like fashion shows or pop-up shops.
2. Buy online, pick up in store
During the 2018 holiday season, more than 89 million Americans shopped both online and in-store—an increase of almost 40 percent from the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation. “Buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) orders on Thanksgiving and Black Friday were up 73 percent compared to last year. Shoppers choose BOPIS to get their products faster and/or to save on shipping costs—but the good news for retailers is that 64percent of people who use BOPIS make an additional purchase once they’re in the store.
3. Storefront as a service
New retail options are springing up to help e-commerce companies stake their claim in the brick-and-mortar world. Storesreports a project called Re: Storeis expected to launch in San Francisco this spring, offering combined work/retail space for e-commerce companies. Popular co-working space provider WeWork launched its first WeMrkt shop in mid-2018 to sell products to people who work in WeWork’s spaces.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) /Chatbots
According to a survey from BRP Consulting, just 7 percent of retailers currently use AI capabilities such as digital assistance and chatbots. However, 40 percent plan to implement this technology within the next three years. Chatbots can help retail customers overcome obstacles that might delay or prevent purchases, such as problems with product availability or glitches during the checkout process. Consumers are rapidly accepting chatbots for shopping assistance: 20 percent say they would use chatbots to compare products, 18 percent would like bots to help them discover new products, and 10 percent want bots to help them complete their transaction, according to SUMO Heavy.
5. Augmented reality
Big retailers like IKEA and Gap are using AI technology to create augmented reality (AR) apps shoppers can use to “virtually” try on clothing or see how furniture will look in their homes. (Learn more here: how 10 retailers are using augmented reality.) By 2025, some experts predict augmented realitywill drive $1.6 billion in retail sales annually. Will 2019 be the year augmented reality trickles down to small retailers? With DIY tools like Blippbuilderand Appy Pieto help you create an AR app, the answer is likely “Yes.”
6. Transparency/Social responsibility
In 2019 consumers will pay attention to retailers’ environmental and socially-responsible activities when deciding where to shop. According to a recent GlobalData survey, 71 percent of consumers consider the environmental impact of products they buy at grocery stores, and 64 percent do the same when shopping for clothing and footwear. How does your retail business demonstrate its commitment to making the world a better place? From environmental sustainability practices to how you treat suppliers, contractors and employees, being transparent about your retail business’s mission, vision and policies will help you attract and keep customers.
All told, 2019 looks to be an exciting time for retailers.
What trends are you planning to incorporate into your business this year?
Tell us in the comments below.
About Rieva Lesonsky
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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