As the calendar begins to approach the end of 2018, business are already looking to the next year — and the trends that come along with it. Analysing retail trends can help small businesses identify where to grow next to keep up with what customers are looking for. So what retail trends are experts predicting for the next year? Here are a few trends for small businesses to keep in mind.
Artificial intelligence is growing.
More and more, artificial intelligence is changing the face of technology. But retailers could see shifts too because of this technology trend. Today, shoppers can ask Alexa to order them something — that’s a prime example of artificial intelligence working inside retail. Small businesses probably can’t afford to develop their own digital assistant, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the trend. AI software can help streamline your tasks and save time, or help customers save time. Watch out for AI trends that could help in both, like Messenger bots for answering commonly asked questions or smarter software for helping customers design photo albums.
Shopping isn’t just one channel any more.
Today, more customers are looking at multiple channels before digging out their wallet (or digital payment). Retailers with more than one way to buy will likely be rewarded. Besides a brick and mortar store and website, consider selling on social media outlets, in apps or with third-party companies. While there are more ways to buy than ever, the traditional isn’t going anywhere — statistics predict 45 percent of consumers prefer the physical stores anyway.
Think personal and custom.
Shoppers have always loved a bit of personalisation — remember how easy it was to find your name on a pencil or a key chain in the 80s and 90s? But what’s changed is the technology that makes personalisation easier to do. From including a first name in those marketing emails to creating custom photography packages, brainstorm ways that your business can offer a custom experience. Personalising ads by reaching out to target groups is also a good idea — if you also respect user privacy.
Recommendations are still essential — and easier than ever.
Word of mouth isn’t going anywhere, but it’s becoming word of fingers — those written reviews play a big role in business today. While online reviews have been around for awhile, experts predict increasing importance on recommendations, in whatever form. Make it easy for customers to leave a review by adding a review tool to your website. Encourage reviews on your social media page. If you don’t have one already, claim your business on review sites like Yelp and Google’s listings.
Focus on mobile reach.
Online shopping has been around for some time, but mobile shopping is getting its time in the sun. Statistics show a growing number of consumers are shopping on a smartphone, not a desktop computer. Start by making sure your website is responsive, looking good both on desktop and mobile. Consider outlets that are easy to access from mobile — like selling through social media. Make sure your online ordering system is just as easy to use on a smartphone.