Retail is changing quickly and as the calendar rolls into December, consumers can begin anticipating what their shopping experience will look like in 2019.
Retailers continue to evolve in a highly competitive world where delivery, customer experience and convenience can make or break a store, forcing some into bankruptcy and others on an upward trend with growing sales.
Here are five things to look forward to in retail next year, and most of them include technology:
Despite only 2 to 4.3 percent of grocery sales happening online now, industry experts expect the digital sales to reach 20 percent of the total grocery market by 2025. As more retailers add third-party delivery companies like Shipt and Instacart, consumers will increasingly order online.
This includes both delivery and ordering online to pick up in store. It’s also expected that social media platforms like Instagram will continue discovering new ways to convince consumers to buy online.
Experts say shoppers will increasingly pick up voice shopping through smartphones, Amazon devices and vehicles.
Consumers with Alexa-enabled devices are already able to purchase their groceries, home goods and gifts through Amazon and Whole Foods Market. But other retailers are starting to get in on the action.
Kroger recently announced plans to roll out voice ordering through Alexa-enabled devices and Amazon has released software that allows developers to integrate Alexa in vehicle infotainment systems.
Private labels have proven successful in the eyes of consumers this year. Dozens of retailers including Target, Kroger, Walmart, Aldi and Amazon have expanded private label offerings this year.
Private labels are notorious for adding exclusivity that builds customer loyalty, all while keeping profit margins high without suppliers taking their cuts. Many of the retailers have passed the savings to the consumer with low-cost private labels that are increasingly growing in popularity.
Retailers have used artificial intelligence to learn consumer and market habits. The technology becomes increasingly beneficial for online retailers looking to upsell without a physical salesperson. Different subscription services like Stitch Fix and Kidbox have used AI to analyze subscriber data to recommend products that increase relevance and are more likely to be purchased.
Retailers are trying to use AI to expand holiday shopping earlier as well, learning what consumers will want most around the holidays as early in the year as possible. The intelligence can help spread out orders so delivery systems won’t become as congested close to the holidays.
As consumer shopping habits shift to favor experience, retailers are scrambling to find ways to draw crowds into stores. In 2019, augmented reality and virtual reality are likely to take a stronger foothold in all types of brick-and-mortar stores.
Kettering-based Marxent has developed augmented reality technology for Macy’s to show how furniture could look without have to purchase the items.
“Those who haven’t invested in AR as of yet are going to…probably spend 2019 scrambling to catch up,” said Beck Besecker, Founder and CEO of Marxent.