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Zynstra 2019 Retail Predictions

The retail sector witnessed huge change in 2018 with technology at the forefront. A few well-known retail giants crumbled or lost ground in this new environment of omnichannel consumerism, while e-commerce giant Amazon began testing their frictionless Amazon Go stores in the US and driving Prime Membership loyalty in Wholefoods.  Perhaps the most exciting development was the capacity of so many retailers to ignore the scaremongering ‘retail apocalypse’ stories and rapidly innovate online and in-store to elevate the customer experience. Between augmented reality, click-and-collect, mobile app payment and line-busting POS tablets, innovations are truly changing the way retail will be for the future.

The question on everybody’s minds is: what does 2019 have in store for us? Will we settle into this new retail environment, or are there further developments around the corner?  Here, we have highlighted three key retail predictions for 2019:

Amazon will augment its physical footprint

With Amazon recently announcing the locations for its second US headquarters, we expect to see Amazon accelerate its presence onto the high street in both convenience stores and grocery. With so many companies now trying to emulate what Amazon have achieved, the e-commerce conglomerate will surely feel the need to stay ahead of the curve through physical store expansion.

In the U.S., we will see the start of their planned roll out of 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021 in a bid to take advantage of the fast-growing convenience store market. In addition, Amazon have been planning to launch their Go service in the United Kingdom.

New technology will catalyze advanced checkout options

With retailers already using ‘scan & go’ technology this holiday sales season, including Macy’s, Target and Walmart, seamless and innovative checkout procedures will surely become the new norm in 2019. Whether it be cashier-less checkout, ‘Scan-Bag-Go’, self-checkout, mobile checkout kiosks, or mobile app payment, there will be a higher demand and adoption rate of alternative checkout options as retailers adapt their point-of-sale technology to meet customers’ changing demands.

With this implementation, the priority for store associates will shift away from checkout, and more towards customer service.

Brick-and-mortar stores will utilize space more effectively

Next year, retailers with physical stores will become more creative with their use of space. Many stores are now doubling as fulfilment centers for click & collect and home delivery. On top of that, many retailers are surrendering store space for entertainment/relaxation facilities, such as mini-cafes, in order to encourage consumers to spend more time in stores. What this means is that the space allocated for the actual physical selling of goods is at a premium. It is because of this that the biggest challenge for store associates will be to decide how to make the store-space as functional and enticing as possible.

Finally, we thought we must add a fourth that will resonate with all those readers out there that share names with famous companies or celebs….!

Consumers will continue to send queries and complaints to the wrong Twitter accounts

We’ve all heard of certain individuals unfortunate enough to share their full names with celebrities, infamous criminals and politicians. But how about those who share the same name as retailers? Mr. John Lewis does not find this amusing, as he receives up to 50,000 messages meant for the retailer of the same name each year. Twitter has responded to this by hiring Mr. Lewis to star in a Christmas commercial. The advert will aim to drive more users to the social media site, with Lewis himself saying he didn’t use the account for the first two years of having it, and only began to use it once the cases of mistaken identity began. Twitter has branded the campaign #NotARetailStore in reference to a common refrain made in Lewis’s tweets.

Despite Twitter’s efforts to spread awareness of this phenomenon, we suspect that consumers will continue to be the bane of Mr. Lewis’ life, directing any complaints to his account.

As we look forward to 2019, retailers that are up to the task of instigating major change will continue to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping, as well as between supply and personalization. The biggest challenge for most retailers, however, will be to pull off in-store innovations with outdated, legacy IT. Many may feel limited to costly hardware replacement, however new virtualized solutions can bypass the issue of legacy IT.

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