With 2016 now over, we can begin to look to some of the trends that will dominate the retail space in 2017. 2016 was marked by the further saturation of e-commerce tools and 2017 is promising to offer even more tools for digital pay and e-commerce transactions.
In Canada alone, consumers spent more than $44 billion a month on retail shopping during 2016, and e-commerce, which has grown over the last two years, accounted for roughly two percent of all retail spending.
While that may seem like a modest amount, especially for the great deal of work that goes into bringing digital offerings to the marketplace, retail industry expert Doug Stephens believes the potential for e-commerce growth far outweighs its modest start.
“It’s [e-commerce] growing at a pace of 15 percent each year compared with three percent growth in bricks-and-mortar sales,” he said.
Stephens went on to point out that the immediacy now offered by online retailers and e-commerce transactions is reinventing the way consumers shop and the services they expect.
“The ability to serve customers online and particularly on a mobile device, to be able to ship quickly and to be able to ship either free or at the lowest possible cost,” said Stephens.
In addition to e-commerce continuing to dominate in the New Year, personalization at all levels of the retail experience will also begin to be a dominant theme throughout the industry.
From algorithms that select the clothing and items most likely to suite you to in-store apps that will allow you to request a new size, different colour or extra piece from inside the dressing room, personalization will take the shopping experience to the next level.
“I’m sure that the importance of big data to personalize and optimize the experience will be the main global trend for the next couple of years,” notes tech blogger Lucy Adams. “The concept of personalization is applicable to virtually any goods intended for personal consumption or use.”
Personalization has already been around for a while with customer loyalty programs like the one offered by Sephora and other beauty and cosmetic stores; however, with the advance of the Internet of Things and Big Data analytics, we can expect to see more retailers embracing various types of personalization in 2017.
According to Sohum Mehta, a corporate and consumer bank analyst, the companies that embrace technology in all facets of their business model will be the ones that are able to make a lasting impact on the retail industry.
Sohum Mehta explains that 2017 will be about niche retailing and that from e-commerce to personalization, an increased emphasis will be placed on the individual consumer and their shopping habits and needs.
There has been speculation that 2017 will mark the end of the shopping mall as we know it. But, many of the retail experts who have weighed in on the topic believe that there will be a need and demand for shopping malls and brick and mortar stores well into the next decade.
Although it’s important to mention that businesses that want to bolster their longevity will have to incorporate a strategy that allows them to capitalize on both the foot traffic generated by a mall and the digital traffic created by the internet.