Future of Retail

Top Retail Trends For 2018


Our shopping habits are changing. Retail is becoming even more personalized, efficient, automated, nuanced, intelligent, fresh, virtual and fast. While most changes are positive, others are disrupting our habits and creating transitional discomfort along the way. Below you will find ten exciting retail trends that I believe are important for anyone who does business in 2018.


Global eCommerce sales are expected to increase to 4.5 Trillion by 2021. What the f is a trillion anyhow? How do we even wrap our head around 4.5 of them? It’s massive, increasingly borderless and is quickly becoming the norm for many businesses. Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to shop.


Physical stores are getting smarter, digitized, more personal and overall more relevant by blending into the way we live our lives. Some of the big players like Apple and Nike have consistently lead the way by using data to predict where customers are and what they are more likely to buy. By providing extra services like the genius bar, product training sessions, sneaker bars, drive-through pick-up windows and even an app connected sock vending machine they have been able to stand out, but others are stepping up their game.

Rebecca Minkoff stores have smart mirrors in fitting rooms, allowing you to browse for other sizes or products that might complement whatever you’re trying on. Minority Report-ish smart walls suggest new styles when you walk by and you can even order champagne while you browse.


Lowe’s ‘Lowe Vision: In-Store Navigation’ works in conjunction with Google’s Tango AR technology, it provides indoor mapping, allowing customers to search and quickly find items inside their massive often confusing stores.


There is a lot happening out there in retail land and I’m hopeful and excited for the future of shopping.



Mobile is king and mobile payments are popping up everywhere. Fingerprints, facial recognition and easy one-click payment methods are simplifying the purchase process. Venmo, PayPal, Cash App, Apple Pay and mobile banking are becoming the norm. Tap and pay is taking over and it’s fun. It’s sooo easy and convenient that Starbucks had to reimagine how they serve customers who use their app, as the lines for pickup where becoming longer than the normal line. Growing pains for sure.



Price, Selection and Convenience are Amazon’s core retail values. The best price available, an endless selection of products and the convenience of ordering from anywhere, anytime and having those purchases delivered to you quickly. It’s obviously working, AMZN market cap is almost a trillion dollars. With their recent move into physical Amazon Go stores, their Whole Foods purchase and many new pick up spots for same-day delivery, Amazon is making sure THEY ARE the most convenient and others are following suit.



Shopping is human and humans are complex. Our needs are constantly changing and we must ensure that our store environments are satisfying those needs. People expect new products, new experiences, new spaces and new ways of interacting. Then fairly quickly these new ways become the norm and we must innovate again and create new ways, on top of the “old new ways”, it’s never ending innovation…



People want things personalized, but 64 percent of shoppers don’t believe retailers understand who they are and how they shop. Knowing that personalization can lead to a 4.5 times higher cart rate & 5X higher per-visit spend, it’s imperative that retailers increase their ability to recommend the right products to go with our unique personal tastes. Even if it is a unicorn shower head.



With the rise of ROPO — Research Online, Purchase Offline, customers prefer to research products online and then buy them in-store. They can talk to someone, touch the product, get the right price, rub elbows with other shoppers and take the product home immediately. Pure shopping satisfaction all around.



It goes the other direction as well. Take a picture of something in a store, upload it to eBay and see if that product is cheaper online and buy it. Image search and product recognition tools are everywhere and it’s important to give people the option to search and shop by images. Make sure that you have great photos of your store, your products and everything in between, otherwise someones bad photos will represent your brand. 
Pinterest’s Shop the Look feature takes this a step further. You see an image of a style you like, you find details about clothing directly within the Pinterest app and then you seamlessly purchase. Boom.



In addition to great imagery, your product videos also need to be great. They should connect to the lifestyle of your customer and answer key questions about how the product looks, works, and make their lives easier. Video is one of the best tools to deliver this critical information. When people can’t feel and touch the product, a video can ease their concerns and help close the deal. Whatever you spend on video at the moment it’s not enough. True investment is needed.



Brands that stand for something tend to do better both financially and socially. People want to contribute to the greater good and offering a way to give back to the community is not only a nice thing to do, it’s now expected.



They say that 80% of your sales come from only 20% of your customers and keeping your base loyal is what keeps your business stable. 57% of people join to save money and 38% join to receive rewards. Points, rewards, miles, coupons, bonuses, deals and everything in between — having a sustained loyalty program increases the average customer spend by 67%.




Voice Commerce is picking up steam with smart speaker owners. 70 percent have used a voice assistant “at least” once in something shopping-related. Most of the time it’s “Where’s my order?” but it’s slowly becoming an important user interface to the shopping experience. We have a long way to go, but it’s important to get in early as it will be ubiquitous before we know it.

“Getting higi with it” - How Health Retail Is Getting Up Close and Personalized


Higi (rhymes with “jiggy”) believes that being healthy should be fun, simple and rewarding. As we all debate health data sharing, they are quietly transforming pharmacies and health retail experiences by helping people play an active role in their personal health. Higi helps you to track health and lifestyle data from higi health stations and integrates with fitness trackers like Garmin and Fitbit, and MapMyFitness. 


At Sam’s Club, higi offers free self-service health screenings to customers at over 600 locations with pharmacies. People can self-check their blood pressure, pulse, weight and body mass index using integrated health devices, activity trackers and apps. The information is stored on a secure online platform peoples vitals are gamified, and converted to a single “HigiScore,” which represents a user’s overall wellness. 


At Wegmans people can share their data with the pharmacy team through an integration with the McKesson Clinical Programs Solution (CPS) platform. The Biometric data collected enables pharmacists to connecting the dots and react in real time to each consumer’s health concerns.


While higi is doing exciting things one of the more interesting trends is the “FaceTime” doctor diagnosis also called telemedicine. Walgreens has partnered with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to develop private rooms with telemedicine kiosks inside stores. Patients are provided with instant diagnosis services as well as treatment for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries through virtual access to board-certified Weill Cornell Medicine emergency medicine physicians via a video-conference connection.

Future of Retail is Social

76% of People Interact with a Product or Service Before Stepping Foot Inside of a Store. 

Wow! That's an incredible number than needs to be unpacked. So, people are already familiar with the product they want, have done research, experienced the product and have decided to come into the store to perhaps buy it. At the same time, they are "Mob-aisling" (comparative in-aisle mobile shopping) to see if they can get more info, better pricing while in store. It's like a Tinder date, you think you know what you are in for, but you need to experience the real life version before you take any next steps, at the same time you are also looking for better options...

The physical and digital worlds are almost merged as one now and this will only get stronger. The next frontier for retailers and challenges for interaction designers is how to develop experiences that combine retail, collaborative play and community. Stores should work like centers of the community, bringing together people you want to see, meet and collaborate with and products that inspire you to purchase them. Some of the good ones like the Apple Store have already figured it out,  and others are just catching on, but the key to retail environments today is Social Interaction. Humans are social and we need to be around each other and play, buy stuff and also be connected to our digital world at the same time.

To change retail behaviors, first you have to identify the habits you want to change. Then you have to design a physical, digital and social experience that is exciting, insight driven, a relevant story connected to your brand and most important, changes what people do in your store and why they come there to begin with.  If any part of the experience is off, the experience is lit without purpose, branding is ambiguous,  digital interaction is complicated and the staff is not trained properly, you can bet that people will find a better place to spend their money.