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What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

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.

4 Trends for Grocery Retailers to Watch in 2017

4 Trends for Grocery Retailers to Watch in 2017

Online shopping has become commonplace — and now the influence of the internet is stretching into grocery stores. Research group Nielsen shared four trends that will influence the grocery retail sector in Australia this year, with online shopping playing a big role as consumers become even more connected into the New Year. So what do grocery retailers need to watch out for this year? These four trends will help grocery retailers adapt to changing consumer perspectives in 2017.

Omni-channel is growing for grocery retailers.

Nielsen research suggests that today’s Australians are more connected then ever — and right along with it, attitude towards online purchases is evolving. As most consumers now have pocketable access to the web, grocery retailers are beginning to transition from brick-and-motar to omni-channel, or stores that are both online and off. The complexities of purchasing groceries and perishables online have delayed the transition past other retail markets, but 2017 should see a big shift towards omni-channel grocery, the research suggests. Already, up to six out of every ten Australians use both online and physical grocery stores — thought some only use that online portal to check weekly sales or read reviews.

Most consumers aren’t loyal to a single chain.

Besides the logistics of ordering items like fresh produce online, the shift to omni-channel is difficult for the grocery sector because most consumers aren’t loyal to a single chain. Now, 64 percent of Australians visit more than one of the four major grocery chains — and that’s every week, a Nielsen home scan suggests. Consumers have several choices when it comes to shopping local for groceries, and those choices could expand with online options. Grocery chains that are able to meet the challenge of driving consumer loyalty will be at a significant advantage, the research suggests.

Australians’ views on food and supermarkets are mixed.

If the challenge of omni-channel and consumer loyalty isn’t enough, most Australians have mixed opinions between retailers and farmers. Nielsen research shows that while 91 percent want to support local farmers, at the same time, almost 75 percent still think they are overpaying for their groceries. Most consumers (64 percent) believe that the retailer benefits most from promotions while over half think price reductions disadvantage farmers. Fighting those mixed perceptions isn’t a simple task for retailers — but being aware of them could prove vital for growth.

Consumer campaigns are essential to driving new growth.

Dale Preston, the director of Insight at Coles, said consumer engagement strategies are essential to creating growth as the grocery retail market — and consumer perceptions — evolve. The growth of Omni-channel options makes personalized outreach both necessary and simpler, since computers can track individual consumer spending habits with something as simple as a rewards program sign-in or scannable loyalty card at the checkouts.

As 2017 begins, grocery retailers face a set of challenges to meeting the demands of a growing market both online and offline. But, armed with the latest research, grocery chains are better equipped to brainstorming new ways of meeting those challenges head-on and creating a strong brand, both online and offline.

5 Trends Driving Female Consumers Today — And What Businesses Need to Know

5 Trends Driving Female Consumers Today — And What Businesses Need to Know

Almost 85 percent of women make purchasing decisions for their entire household, but as a demographic that encompasses many different lifestyles from stay-at-home moms to businesswomen, businesses marketing to women are increasingly struggling to reach the demographic. So what are women looking for in a product or service today? Here are five trends businesses need to know before starting a female-focused marketing strategy.

Over half of all families share shopping responsibilities.

While women are traditionally the family members that notice when the toilet paper is low, almost 60 percent of families divide shopping responsibilities between more than one person, according to Forbes. While more shoppers tend to mean more sales, that also presents a challenge to tracking shopping patterns. Marketing industry specialist Cassandra Moren recommends businesses consider loyalty programs that track households as a whole.

Men are actually outspending women in apparel.

A recent study showed that the idea of women loving shopping more then men is actually just a stereotype — men actually spend more on apparel and shoes by about $10 every month. In the apparel industry, menswear is expected to grow at nearly twice the rate of women’s over the next few years.

Age is no longer a good indicator of life stages.

The workforce is undoubtably changing — over 40 percent of mothers are now the primary (or only) source of income in the U.S., for example, with women making up 47 percent of the workforce. As more women enter the workforce, age isn’t as accurate at predicting life stages anymore. More women are becoming wives and mothers later in life — while older women also often buck the trend and go back to college or start a new career or business venture. The bottom line? Checking that age option when purchasing a Facebook add doesn’t necessarily reach your target demographic every time.

Birth rates are down, but spending is up.

According to Forbes, while birth rates are down as families trend towards the smaller side, spending is actually up. Moms (and dads) spend more on their kids than they did even just a few years ago. Along with trends towards higher kid-related spending, more products are defying traditional age gaps — like adults buying high-end sneaker brands and kids using smartphones and tablets. Brands that offer products and services that encompass a wide age gap could see potential growth, Forbes suggests.

Today’s workforce includes more women then ever before.

As the workplace gender gap closes, Forbes suggests that women have a different attitude towards products. Convenience will play a big role in the purchases made by women, as well as what’s businesses they pass during their commute.

Identifying an audience is an essential step to creating an effective marketing campaign — but “women” isn’t a very specific demographic — encompassing moms, working women, CEOs and retirees, just to name a few. Staying up to date on the latest trends helps businesses identify ways to reach their target audience and grow.

4 Ways To Keep Customers Connected To Your Brick-And-Mortar Store

4 Ways To Keep Customers Connected To Your Brick-And-Mortar Store

The internet is rapidly changing the way retailers conduct business — and yet more and more consumers are looking for connectivity to enhance their experience while inside physical stores. A recent study conducted by Google showed that two out of every three customers cannot find the information they need in stores, with almost half leaving frustrated. By merging the online experience with the digital one, retailers can help drive traffic with more social media followers and email subscribers — and prevent customers leaving in frustration. But how? Here are four ideas to help retailers keep in-store customers connected.

Host a photo contest.

Nothing quite helps drive traffic like the possibility of a prize. Photo contests not only encouraging interaction, but also get customers sharing your brand with the social media followers. Requiring an in-store photo takes that brick-and-mortar and online connection even further. Use something iconic about your store — even something as simple as a kiddie ride that’s at all of your locations or a favorite product — or create a photo booth area specifically for the contest. Create a hashtag so that you can monitor the entries. Require a “like” or follow on your social media in order to enter, and you can continue reaching in-store customers online.

Create a rewards system.

Rewarding customers every time they shop in store — and not with a giant prize like with a photo contest — is another way to both encourage repeat visits and help track of customer data. Stores often use rewards programs requiring the customer’s email, allowing the store to research and track how the customer shops, and what they shop for. In return, the customer receives discounts for participating in the program. This merges the ease of online customer data tracking with in-store shoppers.

Merge online and in-store with an app.

As the Google study showed, 2/3 of customers cannot find the information they are looking for in stores. One way to combat that is to develop an app not for online shopping, but for in store. Store apps can show that location’s sales, what aisle the item is in and even make the online reviews for a product easy to access in the store. Target, for example, merges both the rewards system and app with Cartwheel, a coupon app that also tells customers what aisle to find that discounted item in at their local store.

Make the online information easily accessible in-store.

Some businesses are taking a simpler approach and just putting more effort into providing information in stores, in an easy-to-find way. Electronics retailer Best Buy, for example, puts the product’s online review ranking on the in-store tags, making it easy to compare similar products. To merge the in-store and app-available information, allowing customers to scan the barcode to access full text reviews and details is another option.

Today’s customers are more connected then ever — and yet most still have a difficult time finding the information they want. By finding new and innovative ways to provide the plethora of internet-available information in an in-store experience, retailers can enhance the customer experience. Connecting the retail and online system is also a way for retailers to gain insight into their in-store customers, but with the simplicity of online tracking.

5 Consumer-Driven Retail Trends That Creative Businesses Need to Know

5 Consumer-Driven Retail Trends That Creative Businesses Need to Know

Photography is as much of a retail business as it is a service-oriented one — but keeping up in both industries can be difficult for photographers, graphic artists and photo printers to tackle. Yet, following the latest industry trends can help creative businesses keep a competitive edge. So what are the biggest retail trends that creative business owners need to know? A study from Bazaar Voice breaks it down — here’s how those retail trends can apply to creative businesses.

Shopping is becoming more social.

It’s no secret that social media is the new word-of-mouth marketing, but now consumers are even more likely to purchase products from brands that have a reputable social presence. Bazaar Voice says it’s not enough to just have one word-of-mouth method — social media, emails, customer-generated views, Q&As and product suggestions all work together to drive additional sales.

Millennials have the most spending power.

By 2017, millennials will have the most spending power compared to other generations, according to Bazaar Voice. That means those born between 1978 and 1995 will play a big role in retail sales. This age group tends to be influenced more by social media, while being a bit wary of traditional marketing — and they’re also more likely to buy from a brand that supports a non-profit cause.

Mobile is now a huge medium.

Shopping via smartphone is no longer an up-and-coming medium. Smartphone traffic now makes up a significant chunk of website traffic, from visiting social media to completing purchases entirely via smartphone. That means creative businesses need to make sure that their websites are mobile-friendly, otherwise, they’re inaccessible to a good percentage of visitors.

Shopping isn’t a one-channel experience anymore.

Shopping isn’t an either-or anymore. Consumers that shop in brick-and-motor locations often research reviews online before heading out in person. And even consumers that end up buying online look at the product in stores first. The most successful retailers blend the experiences seamlessly, so consumers can easily shop both ways, from in-store apps to consistent pricing between the physical and online stores.

Online data is enhancing targeted marketing.

The web is changing retail — but it’s also giving businesses more details about their consumers.  Those details are becoming essential to effective marketing. With in-store apps and loyalty programs, businesses can even track their consumer’s habits in-store. That information in turn can help to target advertising to a customer’s interests. While technology is making access to the information easy, analyzing that information and using it effectively is the bigger challenge.

Photographers, graphic artists and photo printers provide both a service and a physical product — which means many of the trends changing retail today apply to these creative businesses as well. From social shopping and millennial consumers, understanding retail trends like the rise of mobile, omni-channel shopping and online data can help creative businesses maintain a competitive edge.

5 Retail Predictions for 2016-17 for Creative Businesses

5 Retail Predictions for 2016-17 for Creative Businesses

Businesses are always growing and adapting to the latest trends. But for creative businesses like photographers, graphic designers and printing studios — who are often almost always small businesses — following the big trends is tough with a small staff and small budget. So what current trends do small creative businesses need to know in order to adapt and grow? We took a look at some of the biggest retail predictions from Vend and sorted out the biggest things that small creative businesses need to know.

Payment options are becoming much more varied

Paying for a service or product is no longer a “cash or credit” question. Magnetic stripe cards are slowly being replaced by cards with embedded computer chips that require special readers to use. Paying without a card at all and with a smartphone instead is also being an increasingly popular option with the rise of Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, which uses NFC to send payment info quickly. Creative business owners need to be aware of these changes — and consider whether to add them to their payment options.

The shopping experience is becoming easier for the customer

Technology is helping smooth out the wrinkles in the customer’s experience — even in-person. Retail stores are using buttons — like Amazon Dash — for instant reorders and apps with a single barcode to put all offers in one spot. So what about photographers and other creative businesses? Look for small ways to help simplify the process, whether that’s enhancing an online ordering gallery or even adding a mobile ordering app.

“Omnichannel” will continue to grow

Omnichannel, or shopping both in-person and online, is continuing to grow. Merging both experiences is a key step in following this trend. Allowing customers to order prints online but pick them up in store, for example, is an omnichannel option that photographers and printers will likely want to adopt.

Social media continues to influence sales

Social media has long played a role in marketing, but now several channels are popping up to sell directly from social media. Soldsie is one option that allows Instagram users to purchase an item by commenting “sold” with their email — while it has worked well for fashion companies like TopShelf Style, it could also be a way for popular Instagrammers to sell photo display products and canvases of their top photos.

More products doesn’t necessarily mean more sales

At some point, variety quits being a customer perk and begins to get overwhelming. Subscription box services — that essentially eliminate the choice — are growing in popularity. Sometimes, offering the best print sizes and products that work with that particular photo or style is a better choice than listing a hundred different sizes and leaving customers dizzy with the potential options. That same concept could even be applied to the number of proofs photographers present to their clients, to some extent.

Mixing the online and in-person experience are the biggest trends coming to retail in the next year. Creative businesses should look for ways to merge both in-person meets as well as online platforms, from leveraging social media for sales to offering a variety of payment options.