10 Trends That Changed the Face of Retail in 2014


As consumers become savvier and use multiple shopping channels to make more informed purchasing decisions, retailers have also adopted new strategies to engage shoppers in more personalised and relevant ways across a variety of channels.

Here are the top 10 retail trends of 2014:

1. Fast-moving consumers

Nowadays, people shop both in-store and online at the same time. Retailers have had to keep up with the pace of consumers by quickly identifying their buying behaviours and predicting what they’ll want to buy next. They can do this by using systems that centralise customer data and keep track of sales transactions across their mobile, web, and in-store channels.

2. Speedy customer service

Customers also expect high quality customer service. This means that retailers should be able to quickly respond to any questions and requests. They do this via SMS alerts, live chat, 24/7 hotlines, and social media. Furthermore, retailers like Amazon are speeding up their order fulfillment by implementing same day shipping for items that are in-stock, getting their products to customers immediately.

3. Mobile technology

The rise of mobile technology has also seen retailers focus on both on- and offline business. With payment options like PayPal and Google Wallet, customers can make payments using their mobile, or other digital technology while they’re out shopping. Retailers are also using in-store mobile devices, where tablets and smartphones can be used to take payments, demonstrate products, offer more information, and encourage social sharing.

4. Big data

Retailers have also invested in Big Data in order to track shoppers. They use this to gather consumer information from all shopping channels, such as their buying behaviour, shopping history, and whereabouts. This enables retailers to predict consumers’ shopping behaviours, offer personalised experiences and recommendations, provide shopper-specific discounts, and implement dynamic pricing.

5. Value seekers

Shoppers are becoming savvier and considering what they really need, looking at where certain products are available and comparing prices before making a purchase. In turn, retailers have become savvier in order to provide their customers with a shopping experience that will keep them coming back for more. They have done this by presenting value to shoppers through competitive but affordable prices, high quality products, and great customer service.

6. Customising products

Shoppers want to feel special, and they’re willing to pay more for a customised or unique product. Retail brands like Nike, Coca-Cola, and Motorola are offering products that enable customers to pick what colour or size they want, and if they wish, to add engraving or other custom features. In return, these retailers can create a market niche and add value to their existing products via customisation.

7. Personalised and engaging in-store experiences

Customers also want to have an enjoyable shopping experience in-store, and to interact with knowledgeable staff. Personalising the customer experience is key for retailers to increase customer loyalty and to differentiate themselves from competitors. For example, retailers are using smartphones or tablets with Bluetooth devices, such as Apple’s iBeacon, to send tailored offers to customers, depending on where they are in the store. This can also help deepen the relationship between the customer and retailer.

Major retailers like Nike and Gucci use large LCD displays that enable customers to shop in-store in an interactive and engaging way. Interactive displays also show seasonal looks along with product features, coordinated items, and marketing messages. Shoppers can also swipe products through digital lookbooks to obtain more product information and use digital fitting rooms to virtually try on clothes.

8. Optimising the store format

To increase brick-and-mortar store traffic, retailers have also considered optimising their store format, either as a vending machine, pop-up shop or brand boutique within a larger store. To attract and keep shoppers in the store, retailers have also included food, coffee kiosks, mobile charging stations, seating, and so on.

9. Omni-channel retail

As more people can now choose to shop where and when they want, retailers have adopted the omni-channel retail approach, which links their brick-and-mortar store with their online store. This way, retailers can meet customer demands by offering a seamless shopper experience across all channels. Customers can browse a product in-store and then buy it online (and vice versa), as well as have a product shipped or picked up in-store. The staff can use iPads to place orders online for items not available in-store.

Being able to buy a product online and then pick it up in-store is also a great strategy in encouraging online customers to visit the brick-and-mortar store, which can in turn increase the store’s average sales transactions via residual sales. This strategy can also assist with building and fostering a strong relationship with the customer, and increasing loyalty and retention.

10. Social media

Social media has also largely influenced retailers’ product decisions in 2014. Retailers are not only using social sites to connect with their customers and monitor feedback, but also to develop relevant products and marketing campaigns based on customer data and consumer insights. Some retailers use Pinterest to determine which products they should display in-store, as popular items are displayed on the site with a red tag. Target’s ‘Awesome Shop’ Pinterest site showcases its best reviewed and most-pinned items.

As you can see, these trends are all about retailers trying to grab and maintain the interests of shoppers. The rise of digital channels have put shopping power in the hands of consumers, giving them more control over what to buy and where to shop. In order to survive in the retail world, retailers need to adapt well to changing consumer expectations and behaviour.