Retail trends and challenges for 2016

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As with any industry, the retail arena is set to face a series of interesting challenges in 2016. New trends in consumer behaviour and brand marketing will affect all retailers – both online and those in bricks and mortar stores.

To help you prepare for the year ahead, we’ve taken a look at the forces behind these changes, and the trends that are expected to dominate the industry throughout 2016. Most importantly, we’ve provided some handy tips for keeping ahead of the game, and positioning your business to reap the rewards from these upcoming opportunities.

that are driving these challenges, as well as the trends that are expected to dominate the industry in the New Year. By taking a moment to familiarise yourself with these important facets of the industry you will be well placed to position your business in a manner that not only will have it navigating the challenges, but reaping rewards from the opportunities.

1. Get Social

Retail will become increasingly social in 2016 and retailers (both online and off) will need to get on board. Whether your customers are interacting with an offer you’ve posted on your company Twitter account, or complaining about a faulty item on your company’s Facebook page, retail is becoming an increasingly social industry and retailers must leverage this in the year ahead. If you don’t already have social media accounts, think about launching a Facebook and Instagram account for your store. These platforms are a great way to attract customers into a physical store or an online shop, and they can also be effective in building conversation around your brand and promoting incentives to purchase, such as sales and competitions.

2. Target the Millennial Shopper

It’s estimated that Millennial shoppers will have more spending power than any other group by 2017, and it’s up to retailers to take advantage of this. Typically, these shoppers – born between 1980 and 2000 – expect a high standard of value for their money, and they are driven to make purchases with brands that reflect their personality and style. To leverage this, think about adding to the atmosphere and personality of your shop and window display, and work to align your brand with influencers and trends that are attractive to the Millennial age group.

3. Enable Smart-Phone Shopping

In 2016, mobile phones and tablets are going to equate for an increasing amount of the overall retail spend. This presents an obvious advantage to online shops, and will become an increasingly tricky hurdle for bricks and mortar operators to overcome this year. Retailers operating in physical outlets, without an online store, need to think of ways they can integrate mobile-shopping into their value offering – perhaps by building an application offering discounts or promotions, or adding a shop feature to their social media accounts.

4. Give Your Customers an Omnichannel Retail Experience

An omnichannel retail experience is key for 2016. When online shopping first came onto the scene, many commentators heralded its emergence as the death of bricks and mortar retailer altogether. But this has not been the case. Instead, time has shown that the biggest winners in the retail sector are those that provide a seamless, effective omnichannel retail experience for their consumers. This means blending their offline and online offering – everything from physical stores, social media sites, to website and apps – into one effective, consistent and engaging experience for the consumer.

In-store shopping experiences that complement and facilitate the use of online shopping (and vise-versa) are being dubbed as ‘the way forward’ for retail in 2016. Think about taking social snaps of customers in-store, to share through social media channels, or promoting online shopping at the physical point of sale. As well as this, make sure your online environment supports in-store experiences with add-on value or pick-up locations.

5. Prepare Yourself – Big Data is Going to be BIG

2016 is the year of big data. Never before have retailers had the ability to gather intricate data regarding consumer patterns. You can discover everything about your target market – from where they’re clicking on your website to their social media and online shopping habits. The onus is on the individual retailers to make use of this data in an effective way. You can harness it to create a more streamlined, targeted experience for your shoppers and, in this, enjoy the benefits of improved sales.

Conclusion

As with any industry, the retail one is definitely not standing still. It’s your job to identify and manage the trends and challenges on the horizon for 2016 and make the most of the opportunities that come with change. By educating yourself and your staff, you will be able to effectively navigate the retail evolutions in 2016 and take informed, positive action to benefit both your business and your customers.