The retail sector is undergoing one of its most challenging periods of all time. Changing consumer demands and the digital revolution is affecting even the biggest brands. Retail behemoths such as Debenhams and House of Fraser experienced challenging years in 2017, and 2018 is proving tougher still.
Innovation is key in this industry and brands are therefore having to evolve to survive. The likes of John Lewis and Next have posted impressive sales figures in the last 12 months, due largely to their commitment to high-quality products and a slick, efficient multi-platform shopping experience.
Technology is shaping the retail industry for the better, so let’s look at five major innovation trends that are occurring in 2018, helping retailers to thrive in an highly competitive environment.
Big brands are cutting out the middleman
The retail model is fast moving and even the biggest retailers are acknowledging that. Brands are watching the likes of Amazon and Alibaba thriving by reaching out to a global demographic and following suit by selling directly to local markets. By targeting specific markets and delivering products faster, retailers are improving efficiencies their end, whilst meeting consumer expectations.
In the digital era, consumers are becoming increasingly impatient. They expect online retailers to know exactly what their preferences are and the offers that appeal to them the most. The profitable state-of-the-art merchants are those willing to leverage consumer-centric data and communicate with prospects and loyal customers on a one-to-one basis. Ultimately, those retailers that can help buyers find what they desire quickly, at a price they are willing to pay, will continue to win the day.
Flexible and dynamic pricing
The vast majority of modern consumers now utilise technology to help them pinpoint the best value products when shopping. The advent of comparison websites has made it easier than ever for consumers to compare products and prices like-for-like. Retailers are promptly evolving to offer dynamic product pricing, based on a user’s shopping patterns and activity on their website. Retailers are also increasingly altering prices, almost on a daily basis, to manage product waste and availability.
Machine automation and artificial intelligence were huge worldwide buzz words in 2017, not just in retail, but across the sectors. Connected devices make it easier to monitor consumer behaviours and personalise shopping experiences to improve the efficiency of supply chains. One of the UK’s largest supermarket chains, Morrisons, has recently implemented an automated ordering system to improve consumer satisfaction.
Technology is great for online and offline retailers in helping to speed up the shopping experience for customers. Contactless payments and saved payment details are helping to improve shopping experiences and enhance customer loyalty. Amazon’s 1-Click payment system has been hugely welcomed by consumers and further innovation is expected from the Amazon Go platform with the aim of simplifying the checkout process for retailers and consumers alike.