This past year the retail sector was energized by several well-publicized acquisitions. Last summer the monolithic Unilever Corporation paid out around one billion dollars to buy up a relative new kid on the block – the Dollar Shave Club. Then, just a few months ago, Walmart went ahead with its three-point-three billion dollar buyout of Jet.com.
These precedents shed a light on upcoming trends in the retail industry. The smart institutional retailers and their brands are extending their relationships with new commercial ventures that are at the cutting edge of technology. The conclusion is obvious: Old retailers are anxious to get with new retailers to understand and take advantage of this brave new world where technology and demographics merge to power shopping phenoms that were impossible to imagine just ten years ago. For example, Converse was bought by Nike in 2003, which has helped the historic brand adapt and stay relevant, according to Couponbox.com. Here are several trends to keep an eye on this upcoming year:
Exclusively online retailers are rethinking their cyber marketing and retailing strategy to include mortar and brick stores where customers can try out their brands and products in person prior to purchasing. Says Laura Goldman, an independent marketing consultant: “While online shopping continues to expand, it seems to have reached a semi-plateau in some niches. While most shoppers have uniformly positive online shopping experiences, there has been just enough negative input to slow down the mania for all things online. Instead, consumers are once again rethinking their priorities when it comes to purchases – they want to feel the goods, try on the shoes, and test the appliances, before buying. So an online retailer suddenly needs to purchase some physical space or rent some or partner with another retailer to allow this to happen.”
Laura continues: “On the other hand, old-style retailers in their physical settings are aware that traditional store layout and service is no longer adequate for the demands of newer shoppers. With everything going mobile, shoppers now expect information and help instantaneously. Queueing up in line for anything, for any reason, is not acceptable. Unavailable sales clerks are as dead as the dodo. Instead, retailers that really get it are installing kiosks where shoppers go for pricing and availability information that is available in real time. You won’t find anyone under fifty who will stand for a clerk saying ‘Let me go check to see if we have that in stock or in your size.’ All special sales and bargains are posted online and easily accessible from any mobile device. This is the future of retailing in America.”
James Hsia, an engineering teacher at Southern California Technical College, adds a fantastic thought to the discussion: “In urban areas customers now expect delivery from online orders to arrive in a few hours. This is made possible by the increased synergy between communications and transportation technology. I think in a few more years we will actually see delivery by drone taking place in our larger metropolitan areas, such as New York and Chicago. Everything from pizza to a pair of Nikes will be brought to your door by a drone hovercraft. Right now it’s the military that has this kind of capability, but the technology is slowly leaking out into the civilian sector and should be mastered within the next seven or eight years.”