Physical retail shops continue to thrive alongside the growing number of online stores. People still appreciate being able to interact with products before they buy. However, customer demands toward online shopping and environmentally friendly business practices are changing. This means brick-and-mortar stores must learn to adapt to stay competitive continually.
Here are 20 brick-and-mortar retail trends in 2019 to consider in your next strategic planning meeting.
1. Retailers Are Increasing Product Transparency
Retail customers want to know how products are sourced and the ingredients in them before they agree to buy. Buyers now take time to read the label and the content at the back of the packaging as they become increasingly conscious of what they ingest and apply on their body. People are also more sensitive about how a product’s manufacturing process affects the environment.
Because of this, retailers are becoming more motivated to display product information on the packaging and shelves. This information is even included in their ads when possible. They have also started emphasizing the importance of product transparency during sales training and making sure that sales staff are capable of sharing this information when asked.
2. Rise in Revenue & Profit Sharing With Landlords
With revenue and profit-sharing lease structures, lessors can attract more businesses with innovative and destination type concepts. While regularly checking the tenant’s books will raise the administrative costs of the lessor—it requires regular review of the tenant’s profit and loss statement versus just charging a flat monthly fee—performance-based cooperation between lessor and lessee is fair and less risky than traditional lease contracts.
“Instead of asking for a fixed monthly rent fee, lessors are sometimes open to do performance-based deals. In this type of leasing structures, the tenant will only pay a certain portion of his or her monthly revenue or profit for using the subject property. This is a very fair business agreement since both parties are equally motivated and good performance will result in greater profitability for the lessor and lessee.”
—Akos Gabossy, CEO & Co-founder, Paniq Room
3. Online Retail Customer Reviews Are Impactful
In 2018, 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 89% of consumers read business responses to reviews. This means potential buyers are becoming more reliant on consumer feedback with their decision making. Businesses should then start claiming their online listings and replying to customer reviews as engaged audiences pay attention to how companies respond to negative online feedback.
Potential customers consider online feedback the same as word-of-mouth endorsements so businesses should be more proactive in managing their profile on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. They should view customer reviews as a useful marketing tool and getting positive feedback can significantly boost their brand. It also gives companies a chance to demonstrate excellent customer service by responding to and resolving the problems mentioned in negative customer reviews.
4. Retailers Are Appealing to the Buyer’s Journey
Customer experience is the best growth opportunity for any business looking to become more attractive to today’s consumers. This is why finding an adjacent experience to improve a buyer’s journey is a rising retail trend among retailers. Businesses are bringing in partners to help consumers become more familiar with their products. These partners offer services that highlight what a company’s product is for and how it is used to get the most benefit.
“Understanding where your brand or store fits into your shopper’s life can really help you craft an adjacent experience that fits in perfectly with the shopping experience. For example, one reason people hesitate in grocery shops is because of the unfamiliarity of the product. They’re reluctant to try new products because they might not be any good. To solve this, add a restaurant inside the store, so that customers can try some of the dishes before deciding to purchase the ingredients.”
—Fu Fei, Co-founder, Haste
5. Focus on Creating a Dynamic Loyalty Program
Retail businesses are putting a focus on continuously improving their loyalty programs to match customer expectations. This means they analyze and adjust loyalty program incentives continually—discounts, sales, or freebies—accordingly. By increasing personalization, businesses can provide better benefits that translate to more members and an increase in sales. To do this, retail business owners should look for more customized loyalty programs that customers want.
Vend is a retail point-of-sale (POS) system that includes customer management and loyalty software features, allowing retailers to build their own custom program. Design a loyalty program that’s simple to manage and makes joining easy for your customers. Visit Vend today.
6. Brick-and-Mortar Stores Partner With Online Shops
Recent consumer research shows that 85% of consumers still prefer to be able to see products in person before purchasing and 90% of them are more likely to buy if they are assisted with a knowledgeable sales staff. On the other hand, these same consumers will most likely do a significant amount of online search about items they want to buy.
This happens because online shops have the unique advantage of being more available and visible to consumers 24/7. Buyers can take the time to scrutinize and evaluate their options for as long as they want. Instead of creating more competition, brick-and-mortar store owners should support their business by partnering with online shops that can bring your products in front of a wider audience and make it available all the time.
7. Digitally Native Vertical Brands Go Offline
Online brands are beginning to embrace physical stores thanks mostly to the success of pop-up shops. Pop-up stores are short-term selling spaces that are used to launch or market a product or service. Online business owners have managed to leverage their online customers when promoting their pop-up stores and rise above their online competitors. This rising trend is a result of increased online competition, rising internet advertising costs, and low rental expenses for temporary store space.
Direct-to-customer (DTC) brands that have typically sold online are hosting pop-ups or selling through other retail stores to increase their reach. This is in stark contrast to fears about the retail apocalypse because online brands are actually moving offline in some ways to create an omnichannel experience.
—Mohammed Ali, CEO, Primaseller
8. Growing Pop-up Partnerships
Pop-ups are becoming a popular activity for brick-and-mortar retail businesses, both as a marketing and a startup strategy. This is mainly due to its ability to help startup businesses reach more sales, build their brand while staying lean, and develop quality leads that turn into customers effectively. For example, a new cafe might set up and sell coffee at a popular local boutique, or a local farm to table bakery sells limited exclusive goods at a popular local coffee shop.
9. Retailers Use Social Media Influence for Branding
Using images for social media marketing is a popular strategy to engage your audience. This is not only through sharing your own images on your social media account but encouraging followers to post on your behalf as well. With consistent branding, this strategy can help business owners reach more of their target audience, build interest in their products, and produce highly qualified leads that can turn into sales.
“Lately, I’ve seen photo booth setups at stores that upload pictures to the company Instagram page and allow you to tag yourself. I’ve also seen Instagrammable experiences, that can range from taking pictures in front of a unique mural idea to showcasing a new interior design concept. The goal is to get people to pose in your store. Some stores even display signs by the dressing room encouraging people to take pictures with the store’s clothing and to tag the store on social media for a discount on the purchase.”
—Mary Munez, Owner, Go Lucky Studios
10. Increased Business Security for Retail Shops
Applying technology to business security is a rising trend because it provides convenience and better control of safety measures. Business owners now look for having real-time remote access to store cameras and security features for their brick-and-mortar shop.
SimpliSafe is the best for small businesses that want a strong level of security, including water and fire protection at competitive prices. The setup is easy enough that retailers can do the task themselves without difficulty. Sign up for a high-quality security system at $15 a month with no long-term contract commitment and a three-year warranty.
11. More Bespoke Goods & Customization Options
Consumers are getting accustomed to the role technology and artificial intelligence (AI) plays in creating a convenient buying experience. The existence of virtual and self-checkouts within brick-and-mortar retail companies are proof of this growing change. However, retailers have also begun to explore the potential that technology has in providing bespoke goods and highly customized services.
There are now perfume and cosmetic companies that offer customers the experience of creating their own scent and cosmetic set in-store. Customers can also go inside shoe and bag stores and have their chosen product customized upon purchase. Experts foresee that technology, such as 3D printers, will lead to even better and faster in-house production of other bespoke merchandise like furniture, clothing, and electronics.
12. Buy Online, Pick up In-store
Buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) delivers on a simple promise and increases customer love for the brand: use our website, order what you want, and it will be waiting for you to pick up when you make the trip. Retailers can convert more website visitors into buying customers using this selling strategy. Not only do sales increase because online customers complete a purchase, but nearly nine out of 10 shoppers will pick up another item, or two or four, when they come to get their original item.
Increased buying convenience and new experiences are what attracts customers to BOPIS. Most online shoppers cite concerns about shipping rates and lead times as part of the reason that they leave their virtual shopping carts. By giving customers an option to pick up their purchased products in physical shops, buyers are assured that any issues they encounter from their online purchase can be addressed immediately.
13. Increasing Demand for Wi-Fi Analytics
With the increase of online consumer activity, marketing analysts and retailers can collect and analyze more reliable data on consumer behavior. This works well for online business owners, but it’s also important to note that brick-and-mortar retailers can harness these analytics too. With customers’ smartphones constantly in-hand and pocket, retailers who offer Wi-Fi have more opportunities to learn more about their customers than ever before.
Wi-Fi analytics means using your Wi-Fi access points to gain detailed insights on visitors, including which locations and in what order they visit, and how much they spend time at these locations. It also helps retailers identify first-time or frequent visitors. These traffic patterns and preferences allow brick-and-mortar retailers to improve their marketing strategies by knowing how to maximize their in-store displays, develop more personalized promotions, and add customer assistance at strategic locations.
14. Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Transforming Into Showrooms
Showrooms are probably the most efficient next step in brick-and-mortar retail evolution. More customers are becoming accustomed to purchasing online and having a physical store available for services like customer service and even pick up destinations instead of deliveries. It offers product interaction to customers that also provide innovative and unique shopping experiences that consumers are demanding nowadays.
With a showroom, shops don’t carry inventory which translates to smaller space requirements and lower rent. Companies like Apple are beginning to transform their brick-and-mortar shops into showrooms. They see customers come into the shop to examine the product and what it can do before taking out their phone to complete the purchase.
However, not all retail businesses would work well using this model. Retailers have to analyze the trade-off between the costs of inventory management, square footage, and running a supply chain carefully. Generally speaking, to minimize the effects of transitioning your stores into showrooms, you need to have products that you know are going to sell and not rely on chance hoping you can make a sale.
15. Retail Companies Are Booking More Appointments Online
Customers who prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores look for unique buying experiences. This is why retail business owners are looking more into the potential of appointment bookings as a way to manage customer demands.
Acuity Scheduling is an appointment scheduling software that allows clients to self-book appointments, pay for services, and reschedule. This allows retailers to prepare for and provide customers with exceptional customer service during their visit. Acuity Scheduling is a retailer’s 24/7 online assistant, so your business is always available to your clients. Sign up for Acuity at no cost.
16. New Technology Is Used for Marketing
Radio frequency identification (RFID) has been around for quite a while. It’s used to improve security and loss prevention in retail stores. Aside from inventory tracking, RFIDs have evolved into marketing tools to enhance the buying experience of customers. Ralph Lauren stores, for example, have added RFID technology in their fitting rooms paired with a mirror screen to allow shoppers to view their selected clothing in other available sizes and colors. The system can even recommend related products to complement the current item that a customer is considering.
With RFID as an efficient tracking technology, retailers will be able to analyze how customers move inside their store. This will help them know where to place specific ads, how to position items to attract more movement to that area of the store and make more efficient store improvements based on consumer behavior.
17. Increased Demand for Sustainability Awareness
Companies are now taking steps to address sustainability in the retail industry that’s meant to increase efforts to reuse, repair, and recycle products. This increased awareness in sustainability began with reports of Burberry burning and destroying items it didn’t sell. Additionally, people are becoming more sensitive to issues such as climate change, excess waste, and unethical labor practices.
In a 2017 study by Cone Communications, 87% of Americans would purchase products from businesses advocating environmental responsibility. This shows how issues of sustainability are creating a significant effect on customer spending habits. North Face, for example, came up with its “Renewed Line” that comprises of damaged and refurbished items. Other brands are advertising how they are switching to sustainable packaging and avoiding animal testing on their products to attract more customers.
18. Facebook Messenger Helps Customize Buyer Experiences
Now more than ever, it’s crucial that retailers with brick-and-mortar shops have a strong presence on Facebook. Recent reports have shown that 53% of consumers prefer to shop with brands that they can communicate with directly on Facebook Messenger. This means retailers should consider specifically focusing on customizing their buyers’ social media experiences by implementing a more personal interaction between their chatbots and potential customers.
19. Improving Online Voice-enabled Search Strategy
There’s no denying the growing popularity of voice searches with millions of Alexa-enabled devices flying off the proverbial Amazon shelves. With 41% of adults using voice search daily, it’s also projected that voice shopping will grow to $40 billion annually by 2022.
Brick-and-mortar retailers will need to improve their voice search optimization to increase their rank in browser results. To do this, they are providing more direct and straightforward answers to readers’ questions on their website. For example, voice search results favor concise and accurate responses. This means the content is ranked better if it is presented in full sentences in concise, digestible content block formats.
20. Transition to Cloud-based, Mobile POS Systems
Point-of-sale (POS) apps allow retailers to accept credit card payments, track sales and inventory, and manage loyalty programs on their mobile device. This means customers will no longer have to queue at the counter to complete their purchase. For retail business owners, it gives them better access to real-time sales and customer data while saving on cost to upgrade and adapt to technology in the long run.
A growing number of stores are working to create this convenience to give their employees the ability to multitask and increase daily productivity. You’ll find that several providers like ShopKeep and Shopify POS have developed free and low-cost cloud-based POS apps that can do everything brick-and-mortar stores need to function efficiently.
Constantly changing consumer behavior requires businesses to adapt to survive. Keeping up with retail trends will help brick-and-mortar store owners focus their improvements on customers’ demands. Use our list of brick-and-mortar retail trends to stay competitive.
Did we miss out on other brick-and-mortar retail trends worth-sharing? Share them with us in the comments.