2016 Retail Forecast: Three Top Trends to Watch

Retailers need to be exceptionally aware of trends in the industry these days, particularly those seeing widespread customer adoption or with the possibility of being true “disruptors”. While some trends blossom and fade away quickly, some become integral parts of the retail sector and consumer behavior. So, what should you be prepared to watch as 2016 creeps inexorably closer? Here are three of the top retail trends you need to understand.

Low Prices Are Important but Not Enough to Differentiate You

Sure, businesses like Walmart have built their reputations on “low price guarantees” and the like, but increasingly, consumers are shifting their focus. Price is definitely a factor, so don’t think that you’re going to be able to start charging a premium for what used to be available at a discount, but discount pricing will no longer be enough to differentiate you.

Increasingly, consumers are looking at the “whole package”. Shopping is becoming an experience driven event, rather than a “get in and get out” mission. Retailers who are able to create a unique experience for their customers each time they set foot in the store, coupled with affordable prices, will be better positioned for success going into 2016 and beyond.

Mobile Technology Rules

2015 marked the first year that mobile Internet access outstripped conventional laptop/desktop access and you can expect that trend to continue. For retailers, that has several different implications. First, it means that if you don’t have a responsive website, you’re already behind the curve.

Second, it means that you should start investing in mobile marketing through technology like text advertising, beacon systems and more. Your customers are mobile. That means you must be as well. You can expect this trend to not only continue well beyond 2016, but to gain more and more steam. New technology already being tested can actually provide your customers with the ability to tie their mobile phone to their physical shopping experience. Example: As customers place items in a special bag, those items are purchased through a mobile payment system and they can simply walk out the door with their purchases without once dealing with a checkout line or cashier.

Going Omnichannel

There’s been a lot of focus on building the ecommerce space, but many businesses have found that it’s not a panacea. Sure, going the ecommerce route offers reduced costs and the ability to reach customers anywhere in the world, but there’s more to it than that. Many businesses have found that it’s not quite so cut and dried.

Retailers are discovering that they need to blend online and offline approaches to really reach their target audience. This is an omnichannel approach and it includes a wide range of factors. More and more retailers are finding that they need a compelling physical presence, as well as an online footprint. Those elements need to be combined with mobile aspects, such as smartphone/tablet apps and social marketing.

There you have them – three of the most important trends to watch for 2016.