Trend Watch

Mobile technology. Digital innovations. Social Commerce. These and many other trends are constantly being changed and being updated with new solutions, services and strategies. Retail TouchPoints editors stay on top of the latest activities and announcements, and bring you fresh perspectives on the hottest trends affecting the marketplace. Check back regularly for the latest new perspectives.

Are Smart Shelves The Tech Supermarkets Need?

Supermarket retailers have long been frustrated by the challenge of providing relevant information at a shopper’s point of decision — in the store aisle. Static signage and product labels share limited data, and they lack the personalization capabilities that have become so important in today’s shopper journey. But smart shelf solutions appear to be a remedy for these woes — at least on the surface. The technology uses a combination of sensors and digital displays to provide detailed product information, marketing and cross-selling suggestions, and they also can give retailers invaluable insights into customer preferences and shopping patterns.

Despite Push For Personalization, Just 18% Of Retailers Identify Shoppers In-Store

A robust 61% of retailers plan to use customer-identifying technology in their stores within three years. However, there’s a lot of work to be done to turn these plans into realities: only 18% of retailers currently use this technology, and just 4% say it is implemented and working well, according to the 2018 Digital Commerce Survey from Boston Retail Partners (BRP). Even when retailers are able to identify the customer in the store, in many cases this doesn’t occur until the point of checkout — too late for associates to personalize the shopper’s experience. This delay presents a challenge for retailers, especially since 51% of shoppers feel it is important to get a personalized experience across all digital channels.

Exclusive Q&A: What Brands Get Wrong About Marketing To Women

Through a combination of their own buying power and their influence, women drive 70%-80% of U.S. consumer spending. It’s a statistic that retailers know well, and it should inform everything from marketing to product assortments, the in-store experience and associate training. But according to Bridget Brennan, CEO of Female Factor and author of an upcoming book, titled: Winning Her Business: How To Transform The Customer Experience For The World’s Most Powerful Consumers, outdated assumptions and stereotypes prevent many retailers from providing women shoppers with great customer experiences. “As a researcher on women’s buying decisions, I routinely hear stories about poor sales experiences that drive women away from buying products and services,” Brennan writes. “Many women report being treated with less respect simply because of their gender; judged on their appearance in ways that men are not; and ignored, overlooked, or underestimated when shopping with a male partner or companion.”

Accenture Study: 47% Of Consumers Will Leave Brands That Lack A Purpose

Consumers around the world are expressing a strong preference for brands with a purpose (that is, beyond selling products and making money). Commitments to environmental sustainability, treating their own employees well, ethical sourcing, and an active charity profile have moved up dramatically in shoppers’ decision calculus, according to a new survey of nearly 30,000 consumers from Accenture Strategy. Nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents prefer to buy goods from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their personal values and beliefs. Having a purpose is much more than just a nice-to-have bonus, however. Brands that don’t have (or don’t communicate) a higher purpose run a significant risk of customer defection.

The Eyes Have It: Visually Rich ‘Shoppable’ Instagram Content Tops Social Commerce Trends

Social media’s impact on retail has been well-documented: as many as 76% of consumers have purchased a product they saw in a brand's social media post, according to Curalate. More than half of these purchases are ultimately made online — 11% of shoppers made the purchase immediately, while 44% later purchased the item online. But not all social channels offer the same audience, reach or impact. It’s increasingly clear that the most visually oriented platforms are leading the charge to generate traffic, brand awareness and more sales. Retailers are being presented with valuable opportunities to deliver exclusive promotions on Instagram and Facebook, and Instagram may be the true wild card here — traffic on the platform is projected to grow 3X faster than overall social traffic, according to Salesforce.

Open Or Closed On Thanksgiving? There’s A Solid Strategy Either Way

Retailers face a dilemma every year around this time: Should they keep their stores open on Thanksgiving Day in an attempt to ring up some additional sales, or close their doors to give associates a well-deserved break? Guidance from shoppers is not forthcoming, since consumers are divided when it comes to shopping on Thanksgiving. While 69% of shoppers surveyed believe retailers should be closed on the holiday, 31% of all shoppers like to holiday shop at brick-and-mortar on Thanksgiving Day, with 42% of Millennials heading to a store, followed by 34% of Gen Xers and 22% of Baby Boomers, according to data from RetailMeNot.

No Quick Relief For Retailers From U.S.-China Trade Dispute

Tariffs on Chinese-made goods already are increasing prices on apparel and footwear imports, and the impact will be even more damaging when tariff rates jump from 10% to 25% in 2019. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and other industry groups have stated that the tariffs harm both U.S. consumers and workers, but it seems that retailers and manufacturers will need to adjust to these additional costs. During the Sourcing Journal Summit held Oct. 11 in New York City, a group of sourcing industry experts responded to the fact that they see little chance of either the U.S. or China backing down any time soon.

Low Unemployment Numbers Increase Pressure On Retail Holiday Hiring

Retailers are anticipated to hire up to 650,000 seasonal workers for the 2018 holiday season, up more than 10% from last year's total, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). As many as 63% of retailers plan to hire as many or more seasonal workers for the holidays as they did last year, according to recent research by Korn Ferry. With the national unemployment rate now at 3.9%, there’s no guarantee that all these positions will even be filled — especially after 23% of retailers fell short of their hiring goals last year. As many as 53% of retailers consider employee hiring/retention to be one of their greatest store operations challenges, according to the 2018 Retail TouchPoints Store Operations Survey. Additionally, 50% say that employee training/engagement is a top challenge.

Exclusive CEO Q&A: Get Ready For VR Saturation In Retail By 2028

With the ability to “take the best of the store experience and customize it for the individual…VR will be how people shop in 10 to 12 years,” said Lyron Bentovim, President and CEO of New York City-based The Glimpse Group. In this exclusive Q&A, Bentovim shares his insights and expertise, based on his work with technology entrepreneurs and startups. The Glimpse Group is a platform company comprised of 10 startups focusing on a variety of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) products.

More Than 70% Of Global Shoppers Will Shop On Black Friday

More than one fifth (22%) of U.S. consumers are planning to spend at least $500 on Black Friday, and 16% expect to lay out $1,000 or more. These shoppers will be in search of steep discounts and deals: 54% of consumers in four countries identify this as their number-one reason for Black Friday shopping, followed by the opportunity to encounter unique “one off” promotions. Black Friday’s spot as a top holiday shopping day has become a global phenomenon, with more than 70% of consumers in four countries aware of the day and planning to take part, according to research from Periscope By McKinsey. The Black Friday 2018 Shopping Report: Consumers Are Eager, More Digital, And Willing To Spend, which surveyed consumers in the U.S., Canada, the UK and Germany, reveals how participation in Black Friday shopping has increased in recent years:

Exclusive CEO Q&A: How Nike Wins The Branding Game

Nike’s hiring of controversial quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick was a gamble, but it’s one that paid off handsomely. The company sold out 61% more merchandise in a 10-day period following the Kaepernick ad’s initial appearance, and the company got a 31% online sales bump. But if other brands want to emulate Nike’s success by embracing hot-button issues, they will need to carefully consider their own brand’s public profile before taking the plunge, according to branding expert Erich Joachimsthaler. “Nike is a very special brand, one that stands for this level of irreverence, as well as athleticism, winning, authenticity and inspiration” said Joachimsthaler, CEO of global brand strategy firm Vivaldi. “Nike is fearless, and taking a stand has become part of their DNA.”

RSP Series: How Retail Leaders Improve Customer Acquisition And Retention

Any retailer’s long-term health requires finding the right balance between acquiring and retaining customers — particularly the loyal and big-spending types of shoppers. But rapid changes in both consumer expectations and the competitive landscape have rewritten many of the established rules for customer acquisition and retention. The 2018 Retail Strategy and Planning (RSP) webinar series, hosted by Retail TouchPoints, uncovered several new strategies for tackling these timeless challenges. Following are brief recaps of six webinars in the #RSP18 series, now available on-demand. [Read a recap of the Holiday Predictions webinar, sponsored by Salesforce, here.]

Exclusive CEO Insights: 3 Reasons Brands Need An Online Marketplace Strategy

Today's fiercely competitive online marketplaces have changed marketing. With the advent of behemoth online marketplaces like Amazon, gone are the days of throwing ideas against the wall and hoping something sticks. Achieving exceptional marketplace sales requires an exceptional marketplace plan. Here are three reasons why brands need an online marketplace strategy: Recap: Personalization Will Drive $800 Billion Revenue Shift

Photo credit: NRF Personalization has been at the forefront of many retail conversations over the past year, and the concept once again took center stage at the National Retail Federation (NRF) conference in Las Vegas, held Sept. 12-14. The conference made clear that bringing a personalized experience to the customer journey and focusing on lifestyle are the top engagement drivers for retailers seeking to stay ahead of the pack.

The Evolving Luxury Industry Embraces Social Media And Personalization

Social media, which was once shunned by luxury retailers for fear of cheapening their exclusive image, is now being recognized as a valuable tool both online and in-store. The most successful luxury retailers also are increasing their personalization efforts, ensuring that customers feel like their personal style is at the forefront of the experience no matter how they shop.
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