2020 Retail Trends Outlook
Published January 2020
Looking back at retail highs and lows over 2019, disruption and evolution continued to define the industry. Throughout it all, two things remained constant - technology as a disruptor, and the shift to consumers as drivers of the evolution of retail.
We saw a strong resurgence of brick and mortar, with those leveraging technology coming out ahead. 2019 also saw previous online-only stores such as Amazon and Warby Parker continuing their expansion to include physical locations. In order to meet – and exceed – consumer expectation, we also saw rising priority placed on in-store experiences and tailoring those experiences to anticipate consumer demands and preferences. Lastly, 2019 saw the continued integration of omnichannel retail, with a noticeable shift to providing consumers with a seamless transition between online and in-store experiences.
Looking ahead to 2020, we can expect a few trends to dominate brick and mortar retail:
Integration of data and the personalization of retail
While there is an abundance of data available to retailers, how to effectively analyze it and leverage it has been a challenge for many to date. In 2020, we can expect to see a growing number of retailers collecting and using data to their competitive advantage, particularly given the platforms that now exist that can seamlessly pull data in from multiple sources and used to create powerful store profiles and predict future trends.
An output of collecting and using data to inform business strategy is – and will continue to be – personalization of the customer experience. Customers can increasingly expect localized messages and localized merchandizing which will also continue to grow in priority for shoppers. Empowered with data, retailers will be able to tailor a truly unique customer experience for each store depending on the demographics of location.
Augmented reality – and the ability to preview and ‘try out’ products before buying them - will be the next evolution of customer interaction and experience. In fact, according to Gartner, 100 million customers will shop in augmented reality – powered by 5G technology - by 2020, with brands such as Sephora well ahead in offering consumers the ability to test out products through its Virtual Artist app.
As a tool, augmented reality will drive decision making and consumer engagement in powerful ways, allowing customers to immerse themselves in products and brands, ultimately extending and elevating the shopping experience and driving conversion rates.
Elevation of the frontline
Retailers are increasingly realizing that frontline staff are uniquely positioned to assess, manage, and adjust a customer’s direct experience with a brand, and are therefore becoming a top priority in planning and executing local go-to-market strategies.
The shift to prioritizing frontline staff in new ways includes engaging them as decision makers who provide strategic input and feedback, and involving them in problem solving which can directly impact same-store sales and customer engagement. Savvy retailers are realizing that empowered frontline staff can save time, money, and build brand loyalty, and are looking for partners that prioritize front-line training and onboarding to reflect the frontline as a strategic asset.
Looking back at themes from the last year and expected trends in 2020, technology has underpinned them all – from changing consumer expectations, to how retailers are gaining an edge in a hyper-competitive world where survival is increasingly dependent on tailored and personalized experiences. As brick and mortar retail continues to evolve and transition, we will continue to see more of the same. Retailers leveraging technology and its benefits will be the ones that make bold moves, turning the wealth of data that exists into a competitive advantage.