We’ve moved through an unpredictable year and have now landed firmly in 2017, but what can we expect of the year ahead and what does that mean for retailers?
This is undoubtedly a year likely to split consumer sentiment, as the significance and effects of key decisions in 2016 really begin to play out.
At CreativeRace, we expect a general sense of uncertainty to become prevalent amongst consumers.
With this in mind, our prediction for 2017 is for consumers to seek out more opportunities to ‘take control’.
And this is how we expect retailers to adapt in 2017…
The rise and rise of shoppable social
The influence of social media on buying decisions has been apparent for some time. What was less so is how the social channels were going to monetise their service.
Now new functionality such as Instagram and Pinterest’s Buy button has brought the two together, shortening the gap between inspiration and transaction to a click.
Expect retailers to collaborate with high-interest bloggers and influencers to drive sales and not just rely on their own content.
Convenience will be king
From Alexa to UberEats, shoppers are coming to expect to be able to just ask for something and have it turn up.
However, voice activation is not the only way to instant convenience. Domino’s in the US bucked the decline in fast-food sales by making ordering as simple as texting a single emoji. Soon purchases will require only biometric approval. Bricks and mortar stores will need to offer new formats as “frontierless retail” blurs the line between physical and digital.
Delivery your way
To complement convenience ordering, retailers are competing to provide the fastest and most flexible delivery services. Net-a-Porter can offer “order by 10am, wear it by 5pm” on some items. Screwfix can also manage same-day delivery.
The barrier for retailers is the upfront investment in infrastructure and then making delivery charges acceptable. However, the challenges to mass drone delivery remain formidable, whatever Amazon says.
E-Commerce websites re-engineered
Too many e-commerce websites still look like e-catalogues, the product of legacy IT systems that have been continually patched. The UX is limited and the value added low. Innovators will make the interface much more personal and interactive.
Imagine if you put your measurements into the Evans Cycles site and then Sir Chris Hoy showed you which size was right and which Hoy bikes would meet your budget?
Virtual reality & augmented reality in retail
It’s perhaps unsurprising that tech that confuses the real and virtual worlds causes so much confusion for marketers. There is a profound difference between what people will do at home and in a store.
Tommy Hilfiger recently introduced VR headsets into its 5th Avenue store, but we are unconvinced this will go mainstream. However, device-based AR at home will add value to the shopping experience. Check out this AR catalogue from Tesco.
Big data becomes meta data
The rise of Big Data would seem to be unstoppable. In theory this will lead to a seamless omnichannel experience where retailers learn not just from customers’ shopping history but also from their social media habits, streaming preferences etc.
However, every day the world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. The AI needed to make sense of all this data is phenomenal and not yet with us. Plus, how many organisations do you actually want that depth of relationship with?
For more on the rise of Big Data Intelligence, click here.
Grocery evolves but slowly
Grocery remains resistant to the digital revolution. The vast majority of trips are not influenced online pre-store, and while 30% mobile usage in store is claimed, this varies hugely by category. For instance, a wine shopper may consult Vivino but probably doesn’t reach for the phone in the canned fish aisle.
Online grocery sales have doubled since 2010 but only from 3% to 6% of the total, and legacy low delivery charges make each delivery largely unprofitable.
Even Amazon Go’s “just walk out” tech is really just an answer to an age-old shopper need – how do I get out of the store quicker?
Achievable health and wellness
Health and Wellness has been a mega trend for some years, but there has been a recent shift in two significant ways. Firstly, food choices are no longer about denial but focus on good choices, eating as much but better.
Secondly, goals must be attainable. Workouts and recipes such as Joe Wicks’ “Lean in 15” are quick, simple and therefore realistic within people’s lives. Grocery retail is helping with offers such as Aldi’s Super 6 veg, but finding ways to help customers achieve their goals is an opportunity to add value.
Corporate ethics, sustainability and social responsibility drive purchasing choices – or do they?
So the story goes that consumer choices, especially among so-called millennials, are predominantly driven by the ethical sourcing policy and CSR of the brand or retailer. Scratch the surface and it’s not so simple.
Research has shown that factors such as the colour of a pair of trainers is far more important than the conditions in which the trainers were made. Ethical sourcing for McDonald’s is hugely important but really it’s a quality reassurance message.
For more on the ethical consumer click here.
Finally, if 2016 has taught us anything it’s that predictions can make fools of us all.
Happy New Year from CreativeRace.