4 retail trends for 2020

Tips to stay ahead of your competition

By | 3 minute read | December 16, 2019

Most of the busiest and highest revenue-generating shopping days are now behind us. 2019 saw a record-breaking number of US shoppers: 189.6 million from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, an increase of 14% over last year’s 165.8 million. However, there’s still quite a bit of work to do for retailers to be meeting consumers’ expectations in 2020.

Retail’s Big Show, NRF, kicks off the next decade – bringing together the world’s brightest and most innovative community of retail experts. Ahead of this event, I met with several influential retail visionaries to share what trends they believe are going to transform retail in 2020:

1. The in-store experience

Retailers are taking a hard look at the in-store experience; customer service in particular. Shoppers have been very vocal about the quality of service in stores lately and retailers are listening. We’ll see associate training focus on product knowledge, as well as sales and service. The goal, of course, is to build long-term relationships, not just handle transactions. To make this happen, store associates must rise to the occasion – and smart retailers will ensure that they do.

Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender are experts on generational diversity, consumer trends, marketing and promotion, and everything retail. As consumer anthropologists, they stalk and study the most elusive of mammals: today’s consumer. Follow on Twitter

2. Hyper-personalization aided by Artificial Intelligence

In 2020, customers will be able to purchase highly individualized items that are then formulated or manufactured and shipped to the customer. We see this a lot in the beauty industry already (think: custom shampoos a la Prose/Function of Beauty and foundation shades like what IL MAKIAGE is doing, for example) – but this trend will extend out into other verticals, as brands with the resources to invest in technology lean into this as a major competitive advantage. Brands like Shoenvious are already allowing customers to design their own custom shoes and these made-to-order, personalized products are extra special to consumers who are used to mass-marketing and one-size-fits-all messaging.

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer who specializes in blog content for eCommerce platforms and the software that integrates with them. She also writes about retail for publications like Forbes, Adweek, and Glossy. Follow on Twitter

3. Social responsibility

Customers are more empowered than they have historically ever been thanks to product insights being readily available. This empowerment, on top of peer-to-peer reviews, the competition actively trying to capture their dollars, and the accessibility to buy from a variety of avenues, makes it all very challenging for retailers.

With a reported 54% of customers believing their purchases should impact their local economy, and 53% of Americans stating sustainability efforts influence their purchase decisions, retailers will strive to highlight how they support social good in 2020 and beyond. Whether it’s to reduce their carbon footprint, support local organizations or give back to a larger charity, social responsibility is going to make a big impact on how customers spend and how retailers behave.

Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is the Founder of RetailMinded.com, Author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business” from McGraw-Hill, and a globally recognized retail expert. She has supported Small Business Saturday’s Shop Small movement as a spokesperson since 2015 and regularly contributes to a variety of media outlets that have included The Today Show, Forbes and many others. Follow on Twitter 

4. Privacy

The future is private. Our window of sharing, compiling and using public consumer information is shrinking. Start now to nurture the personalized relationships with your customers for future growth. Servicing and engaging our own consumers will provide real-time, data-driven insight for marketing and communicating to prospects.

The mobile tipping point has passed as more than 50% of purchasing – not just browsing – over Black Friday and Cyber Monday was done via mobile. It is critical to make the mobile experience as frictionless for purchasing and payments as possible. Mobile-first is not a “cute quotable” any longer, it is now an actual fact.

John Lawson is the best-selling author of Kick Ass Social Commerce and an international speaker. He is the Chief Marketer at ColderICE Media,and celebrated as one of the Top 100 SMB Influencers and The 50 Most Influential in SMB Marketing. Follow on Twitter

There seems to be a common thread among these retail trends: the customer. Between hyper-personalization and sustainability, understanding who you are as a brand truly starts with understanding your customer. Starting now in embracing these retail trends will help set you up for a very successful 2020 and beyond.

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