2015 was another fast-moving year in retail. Some trends burned out, and some ignited the fires of future innovation. Here are some of the top retail trends that will continue to influence the way customers shop – and the way retailers do business – in the coming year.
Hot Retail Trend #1: Proximity-Based Marketing
In today’s competitive landscape, personalization is everything. Two years ago, the idea of utilizing Bluetooth beacons seemed more like science fiction than reality. However, retailers are fast adopting proximity-based marketing to enhance the in-store shopping experience. Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Urban Outfitters are leading the national trend, and reports indicate that beacons, which are currently responsible for driving $4 billion in sales, will have ten times that impact next year. The big question facing retailers in 2016 will be just how to use beacons so that messages do not annoy customers or create a Big Brother vibe.
Hot Retail Trend #2: Commercialized Social Media
Social media became about much more than “likes” and “shares” in 2015 – it turned commercial. All of the major social networks -Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube – have begun to experiment with “Buy” buttons.
In order to hone their Buy Now experience for users, Twitter teamed up with ecommerce website provider Shopify in 2015. Pinterest also procured a power-partnership, theirs with Demandware, which allows users to purchase items labeled “Buyable Pin” without leaving their iPhone or iPad app.
Retailers see Buy buttons as an important piece of the mobile/social puzzle. More and more people are accessing the internet from smartphones, but it is a hassle for users to input their payment information into a mobile device. Buy Now immediately connects social users to a retail outlet online, eliminating the extra steps that can lead to mobile cart abandonment.
Hot Retail Trend #3: Biometrics
Retailers are facing two major challenges right now: improving personalized, targeted marketing and protecting customer data. Biometrics, which includes technology like facial recognition, voice identification, fingerprinting and even iris scanning, seems like an ideal way to tackle both challenges. Smartphone users are already seeing the beginning of biometrics with fingerprint passcodes, so retailers and consumer credit card companies see this as a buy-in tactic to biometrics.
MasterCard is currently working on a way to allow its customers to authorize e-commerce transactions with a selfie, and Visa is working to incorporate biometrics into its EMV chip cards . The market is predicted to grow to $15 billion in the coming year, up from $7 billion three years ago, as retailers and their partners look for new ways to personalize experiences and improve security.
Hot Retail Trend #4: Improving Data-Driven Decisions
Retailers are leaning heavily on big data to help them make decisions across all areas of their business. Competitive companies are able to use that data to spot trends that influence future initiatives.
In the past, retailers have relied on big data to help them develop robust customer profiles. More and more, the focus is shifting towards making future predictions. Through proximity marketing, social cues and other data points, retailers are gathering data on customer loyalty, engagement, dwell time, and more. They use that information to make every effort to give customers what they want before those customers ever know what it is they are looking for.
Technology has rapidly changed consumer behavior, and retailers who are able to tap into those trends and use data to drive their efforts will be the stores that can provide their customers with the seamless personalized experiences shoppers desire.