Here are five trends retail marketers will not be able to ignore next year:
1. Speed and agility
Technology has made us increasingly used to transient experiences. In some categories, such as clothing, retailers are already well versed in being agile in-store – ‘fast fashion’ has been with us for several years. Meanwhile, those in other categories are now scrambling to find ways of keeping their retail experiences fresh and engaging. Store windows, retail displays and in-store promotions will all become more frequent and responsive as a result. And that means marketers face a critical challenge, trying to find ways to successfully manage the constant churn of promotional messaging in a way that’s both planned and precise.
2. Bringing the brand to life in-store
In 2016, brands will continue to invest more in making their physical retail experiences more tactile, more interactive, more immersive, and more engaging. Functional retailing is now the domain of online, meaning that in-store will increasingly become a place for discovery and where brands come alive. As a result, retail displays are likely to only become more sophisticated and sensory. Such a move will mean that in the future even fewer in-store campaigns will be able to be implemented by retail teams on the shop floor, with specialist expertise and knowledge required to ensure that displays are installed and maintained correctly – safeguarding valuable brand investment in-store.
3. Always ‘on’
Apple is lauded for many things – its innovative design philosophy, its stores, and the knowledgeable and passionate brand evangelists that work within them. But the brand is also responsible for something that has fundamentally changed our expectations. Where we once accepted that PCs were complicated beasts with set ups that took hours to fathom, Apple turned us all into creatures that almost overnight became intolerant of anything that wasn’t ‘out of the box ready’. Today, we expect things to just, work. And we have little patience for those that don’t. It is the same story when it comes to how shoppers react towards retail displays. If the promotional message is not clearly communicated, or missing, if stock availability is not maintained, if interactive digital displays are not working; they will quickly move on. As a result, shoppers now expect every element of a retail experience to be optimised and usable, with consistently high standards of brand delivery in-store, every time they visit.
4. Connected experiences
To succeed in our new connected world, the relationship of in-store and other marketing activity has to be closely integrated. Multi-faceted campaigns increasingly launching simultaneously across various channels. As a result, it will become more important than ever for brands to find ways of guaranteeing not only ‘right first time’ but also ‘right on time’ in-store implementation. Timing, and the ability to land a campaign – sometimes across hundreds of stores within a very small window of opportunity – is of the essence. Failure to do so will result in costly breakdowns in carefully devised integrated activity that, ultimately, will lead to a disconnected campaign rollout, weakened impact, diminished brand engagement and, worst of all, potentially lost sales at the checkout.
5. Retail implementation becomes the new hot thing.
A little selfishly, maybe, but we hope that 2016 will finally be the year that retail brands won’t just measures sales, they’ll also start paying closer attention to the causes, and costs, of lost sales at the point-of-purchase. Imagine seeing an improvement on the bottom line without spending a penny more on renovating your retail estate, without having to increase investment in advertising, or needing to throw more money the way of creative agencies. It is possible – simply by measuring and rating the effectiveness of retail implementation with a laser focus, and detailed analytics about what’s really happening in-store. The right compliance tracking and data will give proof of how good current retail implementation is, and where improvements can be made. The appropriate volume of POS support located in the right place for each store, the correct stock availability to support each promotion, and the correct retail standards to deliver a consistent brand experience. Yes, above all other trends in-store, we believe 2016 will be the year when brands will begin to final discover the value that exists in learning how to get more from what they already have.