Each year, retail experts gaze into the crystal ball, seeking to predict the future of the sector. This year it’s no different, with a number of trends forecast to have a major impact on an industry already working through disruption and a changing customer expectation.
With that in mind, here are the top 10 retail trends which are widely predicted for 2020.
2020 will be all about the “tribe” as retailers seek to create communities which are engaged and loyal to their brand. This will be driven by experiences that extend far beyond just shopping. It will include events, pop-ups and meetups, ensuring customers spend time interacting with each other beyond the traditional brand story.
The circular economy
The conscious consumer will make their presence felt further in 2020 with sustainability and social responsibility in front of mind.
That will give rise to the circular economy, which seeks to minimise waste through the reuse of materials and the remanufacture of items.
Effectively this creates a closed system (or circular economy) that reduces a brand’s footprint, resource input and waste.
In the same vein, the increasing prevalence of the conscious consumer will continue to drive an uptake in strategies such as re-commerce. Particularly prevalent in fashion retail, re-commerce sees previously used items re-sold.
The National Retail Federation explains brands like Rent The Runway helped propel this trend into the mainstream and it’s likely to grow further in 2020.
“We now have a consumer that isn’t about packing the closet full of stuff, but is trying to understand what is most meaningful to purchase, what is going to last a little bit longer, and how to sort of jettison what was already there,” the NRF reports.
Social media shift
Social media will continue to facilitate the shopping urge with buy now buttons and product information. In fact, in 2020, the lines between social media and shopping and likely to blur further, in the knowledge if its on social, it’s for sale, you just need to find it, and you can through visual search.
With the increasing adoption of digital wallets and contactless cards, payment flexibility will be paramount in 2020 and beyond. As Vend explains, cash may never be fully replaced, but customers will look for more convenient and flexible ways to purchase.
Online or bricks and mortar? It’s irrelevant
As NRF president Matthew Shay explained in his holiday retail forecast this year, the concept of online versus bricks and mortar is almost irrelevant. Customers simply expect to be able to shop on the channel that’s most immediately accessible to them, and the distinction between the two means nothing.
For retailers and particularly real-world brands, that means an online offering in addition to a physical outlet is now an expectation.
The customer experience will continue to drive retail in 2020, and word to the wise, it needs to be frictionless. Customer experience will involve every touchpoint a consumer has with a retailer, and those who can offer something unique and meaningful will be primed to achieve success.
5G mobile internet began to really make headway in 2019, but in 2020 it will roll out on a much broader scale. Set to deliver greater bandwidth for video, the Internet of Things and big data, 5G will revolutionise everything from augmented reality and immersive experiences to retail app adoption.
And on the note of augmented reality, there’s a new term now being deployed – extended reality, which encompasses both virtual and augmented.
When employed by retailers, it offers retailers the chance to extend the customer experience by allowing customers to virtually try things on and see products in their own environment.
The push for a personalised retail experience is nothing new, but will again intensify in 2020. Consumers now expect retailers to know them, understand them and reward them with unique deals and offers based on the data they supply.
The final word
In many ways, 2020 builds on trends which have progressively emerged in 2019 and even before. But unlike years gone by, retailers are primed and ready, they know what to expect, what to implement and how to meet the customer expectation to best effect.