Trends Driving Retail Strategy in 2017

 Monty Wyne

Retail sales for 2016 were projected to reach $22 billion globally. This increase means the market is overcrowded so customers can be more selective about price and user experience. Given global competition there’s always a competitor ready to offer a comparable experience. So, how do retailers remain competitive?

Product Content Becomes Mission-Critical

Having a great product is only half the battle. It needs to be effectively merchandised across a variety of platforms. Detailed product content is a key purchase essential for 88 percent of your audience.

Good content needs to show more than an image and sourcing information. Add value by adding educational content that creates a connection to your brand. Make it consistent across every platform. Amazon is at the forefront of the product information war and it has strict guidelines that reduce counterfeit sellers and inaccurate product content.

Omnichannel Moves from Aspirational to Essential

Consumers who interact with companies across multiple channels spend 18 – 36 percent more. Today, however, investments in in-store technology create issues when consumers are expecting a unified experience. Integrating advancing technology into e-commerce with its global shipping networks, online Sites, mobile apps and more, creates a new level of complexity.

The arrival of Amazon Go, however, is a shot across the bow for retailers. The grocery store with instant checkouts, product selection, and arrangement that’s handled by artificial intelligence, may force the grocery business to rethink stores. Now you have a generation of consumers that has grown up with frictionless checkouts and this new concept merges Amazon’s foresight with the experience this generation expects. Retailers beware!

Compliance Is a Challenge

Global commerce is the norm, but covering more geography means more regulation. And each country has its own version of these regulations. Therefore, you can’t afford to mishandle product information.

Food and health products become deadly if the tiniest details are missed. The solution is to streamline product information distribution systems, ensuring compliance with each initiative, as well as overall accuracy.

Predictive Technology Is Critical

One of the most effective ways to encourage customers to buy is personalization. Traditional personalization models (you bought this so you might like that) are limited to purchase factors programmed into their item relationships. You need to go beyond that to identify specific consumers (who they are) and their specific preferences (what they like).

Over 45 percent of all shoppers are more likely to shop with retailers that offer personalized recommendations. Predictive analytics are the gateway to them. In addition, consumers are often unsure of what they’ll buy next. Highly relevant and timely recommendations can accelerate purchase decisions. 

Why not build a better decision-making culture where your merchandising and marketing efforts are driven by customer data versus speculation?

(This article is an excerpt from a post published online at “MarketingProfs,” Mar. 3, 2017,