Technology

Top Retail Trends For 2018

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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MOBILE MONEY MADNESS

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.

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NEED IT NOW

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.

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NEVER ENDING NEW

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…

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PERSISTENT PERSONALIZATION

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.

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ROPO DOPE

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.

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IMAGE OVER EVERYTHING

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.

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V IS FOR VIDEO

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.

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HEART HEALTH

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.

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LOYALTY > LOYALTY > LOYALTY

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%.

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VOICE COMMANDING COMMERCE

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.

AppleWatch & The Internet of Strings

If you haven't noticed today is the day that the AppleWatch finally arrives. I'm having mixed feelings about whether I want one or not, I think that watches are almost useless ever since I've had a mobile phone in my pocket, but if my history predicts my future than I'm sure I will have one soon.

I have always loved gadgets. They captivated me as a boy, high up in my attic bedroom in early 80's Boston. I used to hook up strings around my room all leading back to my bed. One to turn off the light switch and another to turn it back on, one for the stereo power, another for the tape play button. I used to sit in my bed, pulling wires, adding things up on my calculator watch, reading Choose Your Own Adventure Books, listening to the mix tapes I recorded off of the radio and dreaming about the future...

In 1986 this future came into vision so clearly - My dad stepped up to the plate and bought a brand new remote controlled TV just for the Red Sox World Series and as you can imagine my head exploded, "Wireless Remote Controlled Television", Holy Shit! This changed everything. I had one less string to worry about and more importantly, I no longer had to be the human powered "get up and change the channel" remote for my dad.  (actual TV below)

Three years later I won a Cellular Phone on KISS 108FM. The phone was huge, the size of a mini briefcase and the monthly costs were over $100. It took 10 hours to charge for 30 mins of talk time. Not much has changed here :), but I was 17 and didn't have any money to pay my bill - so that lasted for about two months... (actual phone below)

Pretty soon I was surrounded by all of this:

Fast Forward 20 Years...

Simple, Easy, All Encompassing...

Not sure I want to add another device to my simplified system, but I might just enjoy not having to pull the iPhone  "string" out of my pocket over 200 times a day, that alone might be the kicker....