A roundup of the top 6 retail forecasts for 2018

04.01.18

1. Retailers that enable shoppers to build and customize products will prosper

Personalisation will still be a key retail trend in 2018 and beyond. Modern consumers are placing a lot more value on experiences over physical items or commodities. And so, when shoppers purchase tangible products (beyond things like groceries), they want those items to either tell a story, fit into their lifestyle, be completely unique, or all of the above.

Allowing shoppers to build and personalize products not only fulfills those standards, but it also make shopping itself a lot more exciting. What could be more interesting than building your very own purse or watch? If you want to see next-level personalization in action, take a look at Dresden, an eyewear retailer and eye healthcare provider. The company aims to revolutionise the industry by providing the world with affordable, locally-made and sustainable eyewear.

2. More than ever data will (and should) drive retail decisions

Data’s role in retail decision-making will grow, especially as technologies like Big Data and machine learning continue to mature. Forward-thinking retailers will keep exploring ways to collect and leverage data in their sales, marketing, customer service, and operations.

It’s important to note though that being data-driven isn’t just for large retailers. Smaller players can also leverage data and gain actionable insights using sophisticated retail reporting.

For example: Dish The Fish, a fish stall in Singapore. While the stall may be running a “traditional” fish business, their retail management system and analytics are anything but. Dish The Fish uses a cloud-based POS and retail management platform to run their business. The system allows them to track their sales and inventory, and Dish The Fish uses that data to make smarter decisions.

3. Brick and mortar stores will continue to flourish

Despite the doom and gloom being reported in certain retail sectors (i.e. department stores), we firmly believe that brick-and-mortar retail is alive and well.

Traditional store formats may be on the decline, but innovative stores — ones that offer great shopping experiences — will continue to emerge.

Industry data supports this with data from the British Independent Retailers Association showing that more shops were opened than were closed in the first quarter of 2017. This was an increase of 414 shops in the first three months of 2017, compared to a net increase of just 4 shops for the same period the previous year.

4. Retail store formats will be much more diverse

Expect one-size-fits-all (i.e. traditional) store formats to decline. Retailers will increasingly establish a variety of store formats to address the needs of different markets and locations.

“The days of the one-size fits all store model are fading, and the future will require a more flexible approach with a variety of store formats designed to address different locations and markets.”
Neil Saunders, Managing Director and Retail Analyst, Global Retail Data

5. Retailers that curate assortments will win

Retailers that are able to effectively curate assortments for their customers will win in 2018. Gone are the days when you could just stock up on more products and expect people to buy. Modern shoppers are inundated with product choices, and at the end of the day, many will choose to buy from category experts with inspiring collections.

Retailers can approach product curation through a number of ways. For some merchants, it’s about creating thoughtful (often hand-picked) assortments of products they know their specific customer would love.

6. “Chore” shopping will become easier but the demand for “cherish” shopping will become stronger

In 2018, the act of buying commodities (i.e. buying things because we HAVE to) will become less of a chore. Players like Amazon and subscription businesses will make this part of retail easier through offerings like auto-renewals, one-tap purchases, and same-day delivery. In other words, the “chore” or routine component of shopping will become more streamlined.

Meanwhile, the experiential side of retail — the part that involves discovering great products and socializing with others — won’t be going away. People will still make their way to physical stores, not because they want to “buy stuff,” but because they want to get experiences that they won’t find anywhere else.