2019 will be a year of great innovation for the retail industry. As customers demand more personalized experiences brands will focus on implementing engaging technology, adopting omnichannel strategies and expanding their sales to online marketplaces. At the same time, digitally native brands will continue to open physical locations.
This year, we will see brands experimenting with new technology and even licensing platforms of their own.
Long gone are the days were personalization meant sending individualized marketing emails. Now, customers want real personalized experiences throughout their entire journey. They want their shopping experience to be tailored to their needs and interests and to be able to shop at their convenience. Brands are embracing technology and updating everything from their warehouse operations to their inventory management to their physical storefronts to deliver.
Big box retailers, like Walmart, have begun implementing technologies that streamline purchasing channels. In some locations, Walmart employees have an app that helps shoppers find a product in-store and make their purchase online. Customers can pay with cash or card and have the choice to have their product delivered to the store or their home.
Furthermore, brands will enhance the messaging function of their apps as mobile messaging users are expected to increase from 2.01 billion in 2018 to 2.18 billion this year.
Throughout 2019, brands will continue to adopt omnichannel strategies and develop new ways of interacting with their customers to deliver a consistent and seamless shopping experience across all their channels. In fact, within the next year, 20% of stores are predicted to implement an omnichannel strategy.
The ultimate goal of omnichannel retail is to give customers choice in how they shop and purchase. While in the past the main purchasing channels were in-store or online, omnichannel businesses strive to blur the borders, giving their customers the flexibility to use all channels and fulfillment options in harmony, such as by ordering in-store and having an item shipped to their home.
Considering there is no limit to what the omnichannel experience can entail, brands need to be agile and responsive to changing customer habits and continually develop new ways to provide a seamless shopping experience from start to finish.
The merging of online and physical retail
It’s no surprise that consumers have shifted to online buying, however, this year digitally native retail and brick-and-mortar business are expected to converge. Digitally native retailers are expected to open 850 physical locations within the next 5 years. The surviving brick-and-mortar businesses will continue to persevere through the retail apocalypse by re-investing in their stores and finding alternative routes of supporting their business, such as expanding their offerings to online marketplaces.
While the future of retail is ultimately unknown, it’s safe to assume technology and the omnichannel will both have huge parts to play in shaping the industry.
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