We do lots of visioning work and are fascinated by what the store of the future could look like. Here are five retail trends to watch.

#1 Retail hybridisation
Retail hybridisation describes the development of stores, in particular convenience stores, adding to their traditional offering with other services that will keep customers engaged such as food through partnerships or their own offering.

In an old iconic cinema in Hackney, East London, a SPAR convenience store sits alongside a restaurant and a burger bar. Instead of just popping in and out, shoppers can also grab a burger with friends, or stay even longer for a meal in the restaurant. This has turned what could be a quick fly through a store on the way home from work into a destination experience.

#2 Voice technology
Voice technology may be in the early days of developm ent for retail, but it’s set to revolutionise the way shoppers engage with brands and stores. Four times faster than type-and-click, it means that shoppers can get to what they want through their smartphone significantly faster than normal.

Voice-search is being trialed instore using robotic assistants that customers interact with via voice recognition and a touchscreen. For larger retailers, this means an improvement in customer experience by making large stores less intimidating, which will drive better levels of engagement, greater satisfaction and increased loyalty.

Sam Yasisht, CMO of Expect Labs said: Over the next 18 to 24 months, computers will better understand speech than humans. Voice-activated search underlies the objective of retailers – namely to get shoppers to the item they’re looking for quickly and easily. It’s a business-driven application.”

#3 The internet of things
The Internet of Things (IoT) boils down to billions of devices being deployed and connected. The devices can differ wildly, but all have enough built-in technology to report on what they’re doing, and what’s going on around them.

IoT has big implications for in-store marketing. Smart price tags can change prices in real-time
while smart packaging can determine how fresh produce is alerting you when it’s close to the end of its shelf life and heat sensors can identify high traffic areas, so you can better position products in-store.

For POS, smart screens in a ‘connected’ retail environment are providing shoppers deeper information about what they’re looking at, and influencing buying decisions, including up-sells. Smart systems can also trigger marketing content based on multiple contributing factors, such as what’s under-performing or overstocked, what’s running out of stock, time of day, environmental conditions and online trending. The potential variables are countless.

A great example of this is the Disney MagicBand. These radio frequency enabled wristbands are given to visitors to provide theme park and hotel access as well as cash and card-free payment for food and merchandise. All activity is tracked, giving Disney a more informed picture of how their services are used.

#4 More payment options
Analysts predict a three-fold increase in mobile payments this year, fuelling demand for a more convenient shopping experience.  Moving forward we’ll see less reliance on smartphones with smartwatches, bracelets and even rings enabling payment. For retailers this means investing as soon as possible in payment platforms that accept an array of payment methods.

“The smartest retailers will be looking beyond mobile payments, and thinking about how this can be integrated with other growing trends, including proximity marketing and wearable tech, to provide better customer experiences and improve loyalty programmes.” Iporium.com

#5 Consumer tracking
Proximity marketing is the distribution of marketing content associated with a location/store to those in that location who wish to receive it. Just as online retailers have the benefit of cookies, pixels and social logins to track shoppers across the web, proximity platforms offer comparable tools for bricks-and-mortar retailers. Business Insider predicted that $44 billion worth of retail spend will be influenced by beacons in 2016.

Interestingly, beacon-enabled campaigns have an average click-through rate of 60%. This is compelling given traditional marketing campaigns, like email marketing, have around 2%.

We don’t just drive shoppers to the front door of retailers, we convert them into buyers once they are in-store. Please get in touch if you’d like advice on how you can use the latest trends to drive shoppers to act.

Our latest report Online Vs Instore gives insight to the relationship between shopping online and in a physical store. You can download it for free.

James Ballinger, Account Director