The Not-So Retail Apocalypse

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From virtual reality to in-store navigation apps, smart mirrors to customization bars, and shopping online to picking up in-store, 2018 was a memorable year for several retail trends across the nation. Here’s what happened in the retail sector over the previous year:

An overview

Technology started to shape commercial real estate last year and it will continue to evolve in 2019. Brands continued expansion, opened pop-up shops, made acquisitions and grew their businesses on popular social media platforms including Snapchat and Instagram. Other brands were forced to produce new products in order to stay competitive in the market.

The Shopping Experience is the Key to Success in Retail

The online and in-store experience influenced customers shopping decisions dramatically. Consumers appreciate the in-store hybrid experience and the ability to interact with new products. Stores including Sephora, a multinational chain that offers beauty products, set the bar and enhanced their online experience through digital innovations. In Sephora’s case, consumers can take a “selfie” of themselves and post it on the Sephora app/website to try on different brands and colors of makeup before purchasing. Purchasing products online and picking them up in-store became an evolving trend in 2018. In fact, it’s a trend that some shoppers choose to live by. Then, augmented reality took over the furniture sector which allows consumers to view products in 3D online and see what they look like in-home on the app. And that’s not it… Brands who have physical stores and online stores merged the two by allowing consumers to shop/walk-through the store on the web. Stores including Rebecca Minkoff and Net-a-porter use artificial intelligence to personalize a consumers mobile shopping experience by selecting clothing items based on the shopper’s future plans or previous purchases. In other words, the app styles YOU!

DIY with Nike: The Arena's Maker's place allows consumers to customize pieces from Nike's seasonal collections.

Subscription-Based Services Gain Momentum

Subscription-based services including StitchFix, FabFitFun, Boxycharm, Birchbox and several more became popular throughout the year because consumers are now expecting tailored experiences. Who’s jumping on this trend now? Traditional retailers are providing a new way for product discovery. For example, Gap recently launched a new subscription service for baby clothes called babyGap OutfitBox to make every-day styling easier for parents with young children. Fender launched a new subscription service for digital lessons called Fender Play where students have the opportunity to interact with short video lessons that respond in real time to their progress.

2019 Retail Trends to Look out For

So, what’s on the retail horizon for 2019? This is the year where we should expect more partnerships and more marketplaces. Many times, consumers learn about a brand through word-of-mouth or popular social media platforms including Facebook but that’s expected to change this year as more brands will be working together to continue growth. More partnerships like Macy’s and b8ta, where b8ta has permission to use Macy’s retail locations to sell their products, are likely to happen more often this year.

Hottest Categories of the Year:

The hottest categories of the year include kitchen, living room and healthcare. However, there aren’t many brands that are advertising products in these categories. Brands including Great Jones, Potluck, and more have sensed this opportunity and are trying to claim cabinet as well as stovetop space. Other companies including Munford run with the wind for this trend on pots/pans and drinkware/flatware.

One of the hottest categories of the year: Living room

Influencers take over Social Media Advertising:

New brands looking to enter the retail sector are taking a different approach. Using online channels to advertise and acquire customers is becoming costlier for companies. Companies will approach entering retail traditionally through opening new physical stores instead of experimenting with pop-up shops. The strategy to advertising in retail seems simple: advertising efforts increase, customer acquisition increases. Brand’s expanding their advertising efforts are looking to do participate in cost-neutral marketing. Therefore, companies are pushing advertising through influencers rather than social media.

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