By Albert Krav
September 26, 2016 - This year, it’s safe to say that there’s been a skyrocketing ascent in innovative retail solutions. New resources - and cutting-edge reinventions of trusted techniques - are redefining brick & mortar as well as eCommerce for merchants and customers alike. Here are a few of the top industry innovations to emerge this year.
1. Brick & Mortar Gets a Face Lift
As customers become increasingly comfortable shopping online and increasingly through mobile devices, the role of brick & mortar stores is shifting dramatically. Physical stores are increasingly playing the role of “brand ambassadors,” introducing new customers to the products and services that they offer, but also immersing them in the accompanying branded lifestyle.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the ascent of eyewear startup, Warby Parker, which began as an eCommerce company specializing in stylish, yet moderately-priced eye and sunglasses designed with newly adult millennials (i.e. digital natives) in mind. Fast Company took a look inside the company’s new Manhattan flagship store and noted traditional, luxury styling from a well-designed interior space underscored the brand’s forward-thinking, digital inspiration from their neighbors across the street, Apple. By showcasing fewer products in a more intimate space, the company was able to cultivate a “personal” experience for each shopper.
2. Increased Transparency
As current research proves, more customers are sharing their user experience than ever before. This is great news for good companies and terrible news for bad ones. As more and more individuals link, share, and make their shopping experiences known within their social networks, companies perceived to be more ethical are rising to the top, while brands that don’t disclose information such as country of origin, the working conditions of its manufacturing team, and environmental sustainability are increasingly coming under scrutiny.
3. Keeping It Real
For merchants, nothing is more important than reliable real-time data on how one’s business is doing. As technology progresses, unlocking critical up-to-the-minute feedback on what your customers love, what they’re purchasing, and how their shopping behaviors affect your bottom line are easier than ever to ascertain.
Through brick & mortar and eCommerce payment gateways, the desire for more responsive analytics is being driven by consumer demand for immediate service and savings. According to Business.com, research from digital strategy firm Accenture finds that 60 percent of consumers desired a more comprehensive and personalized experience from real-time promotions and offers.
This component of contemporary retail is a top trend of 2016, and one that is only expected to increase as time goes on.
Conclusion: Make New Trends, But Keep What Works
Retail trends will continue to veer toward improvements in technology and the innovations of sales models. However, the best retail services will prioritize in-store experiences in a way that is still grounded in the fundamentals of good customer service. Whether through brick & mortar or through online stores, retailers should continue to focus on their core customer base, build stronger relationships between themselves and consumers, and provide quality services that are simple, enjoyable, and worthy of being shared.
About the Guest Author
Albert Krav is a freelance retail and media writer with a diverse background in business and eCommerce solutions. When he’s not identifying the latest market trend or predicting the next global economic development, he enjoys sailing, well-written political thrillers, and a good scotch. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.