We did it! We got through the first few weeks of 2019, getting back into routine after a fun-filled holiday, and it’s already playing out to be a wacky year (an egg earned the world record for Instagram likes, beating out Kylie Jenner?!). Before we set our sights on the fresh new path ahead of us, let’s reflect on the road 2018 took us down. From the Genera Data Protection Act (GDPR) to emerging retail technology like Augmented Reality (AR), here are 4 retail trends that were predicted to occur in 2018. Observe what actually happened, and read along to discuss the lessons we learned that will pave the way for 2019.
1. Brick and Mortar Shopping Will Flourish
The end of traditional brick-and-mortar retail has been predicted for many, many years. Big chain stores such an Toys R Us and Macy’s saw massive closures in 2018, but those closures were due to a failure to adapt their business model to the shift in consumer shopping preferences rather than an aversion to shopping in-store. The thing is, retailers have seen the signs and began adapting to consumer preferences years ago. 2018 played out as the renaissance of brick-and-mortar retail as innovative stores – ones that offer great shopping experiences – continued to emerge. Consumers expect a convenient, tailored, omnichannel shopping experience; where a store provides the same experience and atmosphere on their e-commerce, social media, and in-store. While there are many ways to shop, consumers continue flock to retail storefronts for many reasons including that they prefer to speak to a product expert, the social component of shopping, or to simply touch and feel an item prior to purchase.
2. Customer Personalization Will Take the Reigns
What’s given rise to brick and mortar is the wide spread adoption of experiential retail efforts in small-to-medium sized stores. Adopting customer personalization techniques is done by integrating a store’s POS, eCommerce, and CRM systems to create a complete consumer profile. For example, when a customer makes a purchase, that POS data should be captured in the CRM profile to market upgrade offers or complimentary products.
3. GDPR Will Cost Us Millions
2018 brought the new dawn of data privacy in online marketing and shopping. With the introduction of GDPR, companies around the globe jumped out of their beds to become GDPR compliant as quickly and efficiently as possible. GDPR, also known as the General Data Protection Regulation, was officially implemented in May 2018. With a maximum penalty of 4% of annual turnover or €20 million (whichever is greater), it meant all-hands-on-deck to modify data collection and storage practices. Although it has been seven months since GDPR arrived, experts say that many businesses still aren’t prepared to cope with GDPR. Though a handful of businesses, like a Portuguese hospital and a data analysis firm, were fined much below the maximum potential fines, we had yet to see any business get the maximum penalty for GDPR non-compliance—until today. The CNIL, a French data protection agency, has found Google guilty of not adhering to the confines of the new EU data protection legislation, especially "when it comes to transparency and consent." With the search engine giant under scrutiny for not explaining their seemingly simple check boxes, it proves that no fish in the data protection sea is too big for a fisherman with Captain Ahab type perseverance.
4. AR Will Boom in Retail
Augmented Reality (AR) is an emerging in-store and online technology that allows customers to immerse themselves in a businesses brand experience and has been a great solution for retailers to create immersive shopping experiences. One example of a retailer using augmented reality is the clothing apparel brand The North Face. Using the Google Cardboard, The North Face transported shoppers to the Yosemite National Park, delivering an experience of 360-degree endless exploration. It’s clear that augmented reality will expand the shopping experience for more luxury, experiential goods. The downside to augmented reality is that it requires expensive hardware, which make it difficult to scale. Thus, it is not for all retailers, but for more luxury, experience-based good like cars and apparel.
The main lesson to be learned from 2018 is that, for retailers large and small, it’s imperative that you be adaptable. From adapting to new data privacy policies like GDPR to implementing consumer shopping preferences that protect brick-and-mortar retail, by adapting new technologies into the shopping experience like omnichannel capabilities and augmented-reality innovations, is necessary not only to stay with the competitive curve, but ahead of it.
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