What's next for retail in 2017

27 October 2016

The latest in local retail numbers show a downward trend that reflects the slow economy. With the total month-on-month growth rate decreasing by 1.1%, and the year-on-year rate down by 1%1, it is more important than ever for retailers to keep up with the latest developments, in order to deliver what customers want and expect. As consumer-facing businesses, staying on top of customer expectations and demands is a vital part of success in retail. Here are 3 trends that are predicted to attract a large consumer base in 2017, and the ways your business can harness them to appeal to greater audiences and stay competitive:

Omnichannel shopping

In 2017, barriers between physical and online stores are expected to blur, thanks to omnichannel, or multichannel shopping.

Omnichannel shopping is a form of shopping that is conducted over multiple platforms, blending together online and physical shopping mediums. This form of retailing uses a variety of channels to provide customers with a streamlined shopping experience. Such channels include brick and mortar retail stores, online stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales and any other method of serving a customer. This connection between online and in-store shopping is proving to be an effective way to boost ROI.  

Shoppers who interact with multiple channels spend 18% to 36% more than those who shop via a single channel 2.

Signs of this shift are already occurring in Singapore, with SingPost announcing their plans for a smart mall, where shoppers can browse in physical stores, then have their purchases shipped to their homes3. By providing a multi-channel experience, they increase their own efficiency, and create a smoother retail experience for customers.

Small businesses can craft an omnichannel strategy to help facilitate user experience. This is best accomplished by social media. Social media has played a big role in retail for a while now, and it will continue to do so in 2017 and beyond. Experts predict that that more retailers will adopt social selling platforms like Soldsie (selling through comments) and Like2Buy (user generated content galleries).

Pop-up stores

To combat the current sky-high rental costs, young companies have crafted a solution—temporary stores. A local initiative, PopUpAngels allows businesses to temporarily rent spaces to raise their profile and generate profit without shelling out a lot for a permanent location.

Some industry players are also using their physical stores as tools for brand building and engagement, not just for sales. They set up temporary "concept stores" to give consumers the full brand experience, blending the online and offline together.

For example, Pantone, globally renowned provider of colour systems, brings their brand to life with the occasional pop-up café. Set up temporarily in places like Paris and Monaco, the café lets consumers experience pantone in a completely different way, reimagining how their extended world of shades would taste on the palate. Brown shades take form in salted caramel éclairs and rich red is represented by a nutritious bottle of Ginger Spice juice. This allows them to reach out to newer generations who might be less familiar with the brand, and establish a more personal relationship with customers.

Closer to home, online retailer MegaFash, saw a 10% month to month growth in physical stores from July to November, and a whopping 50% jump from November to December after setting up pop-up stores. Its CEO and Co-Founder Ngeow Jiawen explains the beauty of this strategy:

“You get to activate crowds in certain parts of Singapore for a few months and then you move to another location and acquire new customers again." 4.

Click-and-collect initiatives grow, with mobile at the forefront

The click-and-collect option lets people shop for products online, then pick them up in-store. On top of their efficient delivery services, Zalora allows customers to pick up their orders at the nearest Pop Station, while Decathlon gives customers the option to pick up their orders in-store.

Fashion chain Nordstrom takes it one step further by giving customers the option to text a Nordstrom associate when they are near the outlet. The associate then prepares and delivers the order to the customer without them having to even get out of their car.

As an SME, your business can leverage on this trend to cut costs in shipping and make a personal connection with your consumers. Take your cue from Nordstrom and Decathlon to make the consumer’s experience as smooth as possible, creating a personal relationship with your customers, something that outsourcing to delivery services does not allow.


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