Retail technology once revolved around creating quick and efficient transactional moments. Now, retailers are expected to go further than ever before, leveraging digital technologies to improve the customer experience, differentiate themselves from competitors, and provide a more personalized shopping trip. As customer expectations evolve, data-led intelligence, convenience options, and friendly service will be among the most transformative retail marketing trends in 2020.
2019: A Retail Year in Review
Finally, after more than a decade of retail numbers chugging steadily upward, fears of the “retail apocalypse” have died down. Brick-and-mortar retail isn’t dead—but it is changing. Tedious tasks like inventory and logistics are becoming more automated, while the focus shifts to customer experience.
Among the retail trends in 2019…
- New bars were set with same-day deliveries, click-and-collect shopping, ship from store options, and easy returns policies.
- The real innovators were beginning to experiment with card-less checkout, smart beacons, third party shopping app promotion, experiential marketing, and augmented reality displays.
- Retailers were still largely focused on Millennials and, to a degree, aging Boomers.
- Some retailers took a risk by standing up for social issues to differentiate themselves.
- Despite the hype surrounding voice order technology like smart speakers, retailers didn’t see it as worthy of investment.
- Subscription services and social media ad-driven retail shopping were on the rise.
- Mobile was the biggest investment priority, with nearly every retailer increasing their omnichannel marketing through smartphones.
Transformative Retail Marketing Trends in 2020
Many of the trends of 2019 will continue on, but there are some new disruptors retailers will likely see:
1. Visual Search
Consumers love seamlessness between physical and digital realms. Pinterest, Bing, and Google are leading the way for visual search to take off in 2020. Visual search technology will allow shoppers to snap a photo of a dress someone is wearing and discover where to purchase it. They can take a photo of a room to get a paint’s name and brand. Foodie photos will take shoppers to recipes and ingredients. Marketers will need to dedicate at least some resources to capturing attractive photos, embedding badges and links, and optimizing for this new format.
2. Emphasis on Immediacy
Consumers still like shopping in stores due to the immediacy of “having it now.” But Amazon’s shift to free one-day shipping is forcing many retailers to up their A-game. When they don’t have something in-stock, the truly competitive retailers are looking to “ship-to-home” same-day. Marketing differentiators like “free shipping,” “easy returns,” and “immediate delivery” provide shoppers with more information, more options, and more reasons to shop with you over a competitor. Soon it will no longer be a way, but THE way, so the sooner you optimize your logistics to accommodate the fast and furious pace of shopping, the better!
3. Augmented Reality
Consumers don’t necessarily need to see, feel, or test a product in person before buying when augmented reality allows for a clearer picture. Toyota gives car shoppers the ability to see a 3D representation and in-depth information on their cars without going to a dealer. Microsoft is working on a second generation of more comfortable and intuitive augmented reality headsets for more immersive retail experiences. These headsets let shoppers get a glimpse of how furniture might look in their homes, super-impose clothes onto their own holographic images, and share their shopping experiences with friends back home. Further, retailers can use AR’s built-in, eye-tracking technology to determine optimal inventory placement on the shelves.
4. Third-Party Mobile Shopping Apps
Mobile shopping app sessions have grown by 70% since 2016. In 2018, shoppers spent 18 billion hours shopping on their smartphones. Consumers are attracted to these apps for rewards points, personalized offers, coupons, and assistance in finding the latest, greatest products. Shopkick is an increasingly popular mobile shopping app that brands and retailers are using to get shoppers into their stores and spending. App users receive rewards points for walking into a particular retail partner location and interacting with products. They can then use those rewards points toward a gift card of their choosing. By harnessing a third-party app, retailers have the advantage of reaching an already loyal group of consumers.
By harnessing a third-party app, retailers have the advantage of reaching an already loyal group of consumers.
Gearing Up for Retail in 2020
It can be difficult to predict the future of retail—especially considering the fact that one announcement from a giant like Apple, Walmart, or Amazon can send ripples throughout the industry. The sudden emergence of a new out-of-the-box competitor can have the old vanguards scratching their heads and scrambling to keep up. As more younger purchasers with disposable income enter the market, the old marketing strategies become less effective as retailers must adapt to new expectations, modes of communication, and needs. At Shopkick, we’ve always got an eye on the latest innovations to keep delivering shoppers a unique mobile experience.
Image courtesy of HAKINMHAN