In recent years, retail technology has taken hold across numerous niche and major marketplaces, changing the way brand owners glean insights into their companies. With more detailed information at their fingertips, marketing teams now have a better understanding of the needs of their customers, as well as the best ways to reach out to them.
While considerable advancements have taken place, this doesn't mean the retail industry has stalled its quickly shifting pace. In fact, the opposite is true - as innovations continue, retailers and their marketing teams will need to keep pace, or risk falling behind the competition.
In this spirit, it's time to take a look at what the future of retail holds, particularly in terms of technology and advancing strategic approaches. Here are what the experts are forecasting for the industry next year, and beyond:
1) Smarter stores: Flipping traditional shopping habits
One of the biggest changes currently taking place - which will only become more defined in the future - is the shifting role of the brick-and-mortar store. In the past, customers rarely utilized any other channel to connect with a brand. Now that interactions and purchases are taking place across numerous channels - including mobile apps, flagship websites and social media - customers are viewing
"Interactions and purchases are taking place across numerous channels."
physical store locations a little differently, and brand owners and marketers must follow suit.
Doug Stephens, Retail Prophet founder, noted that in this landscape, a company's stores should be treated as media, and media outreach should be viewed as physical locations were in the past.
"Media is becoming the store. Retailers will use technology to make every single piece of media - be it social, online, mobile or conventional - a direct path to purchase," Stephens wrote. "Conversely, the physical store is becoming a powerful form of experiential media. Your store should convey a powerful brand story through every touchpoint, provide lots of opportunities for immersive product experience, and expose shoppers to your entire ecosystem of product experts, purchase channels, added-value services and loyalty tools."
This approach not only helps better align the brand with customer demands, but can also offer a more unified omni channel experience for shoppers.
2) Understanding the customer through available data
Informational assets and big data have become crucial across numerous industries, but the retail sector has taken this idea and ran with it. Brands already understand the essential nature of making the best use of available information - especially when it pertains to customer demands and behaviors - and this approach will only become more critical in the near future.
"[W]e need to focus on the efforts we put in place this year and capitalize off of the data and consumer behavior we have seen this year and will see in Q4," advised Devin Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of CDF Consulting. "Marketing plans and campaigns should always start with understanding customers' omni channel needs, wants and behavior."
Gathering, analyzing and pinpointing patterns and insights will be the key to success for this approach.
3) Crossing the channel: The importance of partnerships
Finally, retail experts across the board point to the increasing importance of forming robust relationships with sellers spanning different channels.
"We need to work together to excite the customer on why they should shop with our brand and retain them," Fitzpatrick noted. "Strategic partnerships ... can be a highly effective way to build a business, boost brand awareness, and break into new markets."
To ensure success here, though, brands will require the most up-to-date details about their products from all the sellers they work with. PriceSpider's innovative Channel Reports service can provide the details retailers need, offering an in-depth view into consumer feedback and seller feedback. To find out more about how Channel Reports can help your brand be proactive about its future, contact PriceSpider today.