Retail trends 2018

Our Managing Director, Sue Benson, offers a marketers perspective on some of the biggest retail trends facing the industry in 2018.

Easy returns

As consumers continue to call for ever more convenient ways to shop, making returns quicker and easier will be a priority for many retailers as we move through the year.

Other aspects of the shopping experience have come on leaps and bounds in seamlessness and sophistication and the returns process should be no exception.

To attract customers and secure repeat online business, retailers should consider everything from looser conditions around returns and longer warranties to services that collect returns at the consumer’s convenience.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality (VR) in retail was a strong feature of 2017, and I expect this will only proliferate this year and beyond.

Among the innovators were Ikea with the launch of VR Christmas trees and Sony introduced a new program to let PlayStation VR-curious buyers try it out in the comfort of their homes.

Similarly, to how arcades in the ‘70s and ‘80s brought video games to the masses, out of home virtual reality, experienced at high footfall locations such as shopping centres, will continue to convince consumers how impactful VR can be. Positive experiences will lead to greater adoption of new technologies in the home.

No-checkout stores

Many retailers now offer self-serve, staff-free checkouts, but new trends in technology are bringing us ever closer to killing-off the traditional checkout till.

The next generation of smart stores will dispense entirely of the need for till-based checkouts. Mobile technology will put control, quite literally, in the hands of the consumer as they keep track of their items and take care of any transactions at the touch of a button.

Amazon continues to show it’s ahead in the innovation game. It is one of the key retailers that are leading the way to reach a shopping experience void of the traditional checkout experience.

Seattle is the location for its first high-tech futuristic “Amazon Go” store without checkout lines or tills. Sophisticated software tracks movement and means that shoppers can remove goods from shelves without the need to check out at the end. Instead purchases are automatically billed to customer credit cards when they leave the store.

A new year brings fresh challenges and opportunities and forward-thinking retailers will have their ears to the ground to plug into the many emerging trends.

For more insights and trends browse our reports and white papers.