Digitalization, ultra-connectivity, and ever-shifting customer expectations are causing seismic shifts in the retail landscape. Staying on top of these changes are key to making the most of the coming year. Here are our 4 major 2018 retail predictions and ways you can amp up your marketing strategy.
A) Purpose-Driven Partnerships:
Strategic brand alliances will be the core currency in 2018. It will allow retailers to think beyond monotonous and too-common one-off collaborations and in-the-moment engagements. By collaborating with multiple partners, they can come up with unique values and exclusive benefits. Capitalizing on this trend will ensure a unique competitive edge, as it will put retailers in a much better position to satisfy the newly-formed customer experience.
In fact, a few retailers have already moved in this direction. Home Depot has joined hands with Laurel & Wolf, an online design company. Laurel & Wolf have created an exclusive, multi-platform design consultation and installation service called Home Depot Pro Referral Service. Home Depot customers can work with Laurel & Wolf designers to create custom interior design plans.
What You Can Do
Put a focus on strategic partnerships in 2018. Venture into alliances with a specific aim such as enhanced customer traffic and brand reach. But, make sure you’ve backed up your goal by finding out what your customers really want. Run surveys to find out what pain points they’re facing that a strategic partner could potentially help solve.
Have a holistic and studious approach to partnerships. Identify various possibilities where a strategic alliance could solve customers’ needs and improve the overall brand experience. And don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Unique partnerships can not only build better customer experiences but they can also add a lot to your PR strategy in the coming year.
B) Ever Shortening Shipping Windows:
Just like we’ve seen in the last decade, Amazon will continue to play the disruptor role in 2018. That disruptive effect would be more palpable in changing consumer shipping expectations. The online retail giant often delivers the same or comparable products as other retailers at a lower price- in a much quicker time frame. And looking at the efficiency that it has pulled it off, Two-day shipping has now become a new normal. With ever developing shipping technologies and methodologies like drone deliveries, shrinking shipping windows is indeed among one of the most important 2018 retail predictions.
What You Can Do
If you don’t want to (or can’t) eat a bunch of overhead expenses to drive shipping costs down, you can think about a ship-to-store option. It is beneficial from all conceivable angles. Customers receive free shipping, you’re bringing them in store and keeping costs low, and there are no return costs if it’s not what they want.
C) Connected Environments:
The line between physical and digital world is blurring, making integrated scenario the future of retail. In the coming year, customers will seek robust interactions that seamlessly connect multiple devices, environments, and technologies. Retail will move towards more immersive and distinctive shopping experiences.
What You Can Do
Think about pairing tools such as voice commerce applications like Google Home and Alexa, RFID, beacons, mobile applications, Internet of Things and wearable devices to create a connected ecosystem to own up this key point of 2018 retail predictions.
Identify which devices your customers use most commonly, and integrate emerging technologies into moments and immersive experiences that complement and enhance day-to-day life.
D) Transparency Will Matter More Than Ever:
With increased environmental awareness and health-conscious customers, transparency will be a big factor. Note that in an age of information overload, they have more than enough resources to know the truth about your products and brand. Customers want to know where their products come from, and the brands they buy really stand for. It’s then not surprising that one study found that 86% of millennial moms reported that they would pay more for a product with full transparency.
What You Can Do
As transparency is a constant undertaking, it needs to be looked at contentiously. Make conscious decisions about your sourcing. Be able to defend the things you sell, the prices you sell them at, and the way your business runs. If transparency in your sourcing, manufacturing, and employee satisfaction makes you nervous, you may have a bigger problem on your hands this year.