2018 Retail Trends: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition

Retail trends

Over the past decade, customers have found convenient alternatives to shopping in physical stores. Direct to consumer shipping, in which manufacturers fill internet orders with minimal retailer involvement, has contributed to the rise of ecommerce over stores. Nonetheless, physical stores do maintain an important role in customers’ shopping experiences. Without calculated risks, retailers may fall into the trap of complacency– which could have its own consequences. Read on to learn more about emerging retail trends, and how you can adapt in the ever-changing retail world, especially with custom EDI at your disposal.

1. Strong Online and Physical Presence

Online shoppers sometimes prefer to visually examine merchandise before ultimately making a purchase. Even the most committed in-store shoppers may find another store if the website does not provide adequate information.

In essence, a strong online and physical presence is crucial for all retail brands. These omnichannel retail brands tend to make more sales in both the physical and digital spaces than their counterparts. According to a 2015 study, shoppers that purchase from multiple channels hold a 30% higher overall value to brands than those who purchase via one channel.

Enhanced EDI will help your business to synchronize inventory counts, and streamline delivery services. Custom EDI also helps business owners to make informed decisions with analytics, specified to your brand.

2. In-Store Technology to Help Customers

When customers do make the plunge into the physical retail store, there should still be a strong presence of technology.

Many retailers are utilizing cutting-edge beacon technology. Utilizing bluetooth capability, this technology communicates with customers who have the store’s application open. This beacon will emit a signal to the application, providing customers with coupons. This rewards those with a demonstrated intent to purchase. As apps continue to play a role, even for in-store purchases, beacon technology will become essential.

Being unable to locate the merchandise that you need is frustrating. That’s why many retailers have store-specified maps built in on their apps. This allows all customers to easily find merchandise. Lowe’s has taken this concept to the next level with an augmented reality feature that directs customers to the merchandise.

Other retailers use technology to ensure that in-store customers are satisfied. Clothing retailers often offer the same product in a different size with a simple scanning and online order feature. Custom EDI will aid in streamlining this purchasing process, and ensure return customers.

Finally, malls have built-in navigation systems that give customers directions to their destinations.

3. Qualified and Professional Employees

Just because retailers are emphasizing the importance of technology doesn’t mean that quality employees are obsolete. In fact, these emerging technologies are relieving human workers of mundane tasks such as product scanning and inventory checking. Instead, human workers have the freedom to better serve customers, and provide a quality shopping experience. Overall, this transition is part of the push for retail employees to sell to customers, rather than inventory management. After all, custom EDI simplifies ordering and inventory control processes. This is not only beneficial to retail sales, but also to employees, who prefer this work.

To properly accomplish this, many retailers are instituting training programs, which aim to impart the skills that retail employees need. In fact, even Walmart, which has the reputation of hiring lackluster employees, is part of this initiative.

Allocating resources toward training employees will ensure that they provide quality customer service.

4. New Store Concepts

In the ecommerce age, physical stores cannot thrive with the same approach that they had in 2008. To continue attracting customers, retailers need to find new ways to be engaging. In addition to upgrading your EDI for improved analytics and reporting, redefining your approach can have benefits. Otherwise, potential customers will defer to online or physical competitors.

Many retail companies that have been successful in redefining their stores emphasize the customer’s experience. For example, the new Nordstrom Local in LA does not contain any merchandise. Instead, it offers standard services like returns, as well as lifestyle-related services, including manicures and tailoring. This store also has a bar.

Years ago, Apple led the charge in defining how important a retail experience can be. Instead of traditional cashiers, Apple hired concierges. They prioritized servicing customers over displaying merchandise in conventional racks.

While customers may not purchase all merchandise in the store, these unconventional stores offer shoppers a reason to visit. This aids in developing customer loyalty. Stores with carefully considered layouts give shoppers a more modern retail experience.

5. Control Over Delivery and Return Times

D2C shipping streamlines the order fulfillment process. But, providing customers with a greater array of options regarding delivery and return options creates an even more convenient experience. Thankfully, this is possible with the proper custom EDI integrations.

For example, allowing customers to dictate their own delivery window instills a sense of security when ordering high-ticket items. This is also a major lifestyle improvement, as customers no longer have to worry about potentially missed shipments. With enhanced EDI, your brand can offer both of these options.

As always, offering free next-day shipping is a major attraction as well. This even beats out Amazon Prime, which offers shoppers free two-day delivery.

Customers place a lot of value on the ability to control their shopping experience from start to finish. So, this heightened sense of control can be instrumental in cultivating customer loyalty.

6. Concentrating Efforts in SEO (Especially Images)

Google’s rapidly advancing artificial intelligence software has enabled a whole new world of capabilities for shoppers. For retailers, this means that an increased focus on image optimization is essential.

It’s not uncommon for customers browsing merchandise to find a product they are interested in, and take a picture. For example, before purchasing a pair of earrings, customers may want to evaluate their interest. Google’s advanced image searching platform allows customers to simply upload the image, and find the product page. So, they can easily purchase the same product from the retailer’s website. Purchasing the product is then a simple process, thanks to enhanced jewelry EDI software.

However, this is only possible if the images are properly optimized for SEO. Properly naming the image, assigning the right meta tags and alt attributes can go a long way. Finally, high-quality images can also make a meaningful difference.

Engaging in these image SEO efforts will help you to cast a wider net, and receive more orders.

7. Having Custom EDI Software

For both ecommerce and in-store efforts, custom EDI is critical.

By automating all product purchasing processes, your organization can save valuable money, and improve efficiency. Custom EDI software will also improve the accuracy of transactions, without the potential for human error, and provide improved data security. Finally, custom EDI software will automatically create a paperless record of each transaction.

Enhanced EDI: Improve Your Selling Abilities

With plenty of niche competition, as well as online titans like Amazon, growing with the retail industry is critical. More than ever, retailers must exercise caution to prevent store closures, a last resort that several companies have recently taken. With the right approach, though, your company can enjoy years of success. EDI Options can assist you in these endeavors with a fully specified custom EDI platform.

 

This post was originally published on August 22nd, 2017. It was updated for accuracy on May 24th, 2018.