Just how do successful retailers grab consumer attention and keep customers coming back? Check out the retail marketing trends to watch for in 2018.

Retail spending is expected to grow worldwide over the next few years, with online shopping comprising 8.8% of total retail spending. The retail industry will continue to evolve, and the trends in retail marketing that are predicted to surge in 2018 give us a great idea of how shopping is going to change and improve this year.

Community and Retail Growing Together

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — Growing with Community

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Online shopping has come of age. The abundant availability of products, coupled with the easy access of websites and apps, keep consumers coming back for more. More is definitely the key word, though. Consumers are always looking for more whenever they visit an online retailer or business’ website.

Consumers know they share things in common with other shoppers. Similar interests, values, and lifestyles all bring people together, and consumers are eager for those opportunities to be part of a greater community. It isn’t enough for consumers to simply go to the store, shop, and return home. They’re looking for a welcoming environment that brings people together.

You can expand your retail marketing and bring consumers together in the real world, as well as online, through:

  • Message boards
  • Blogs
  • Local events
  • Local newspapers and periodicals and
  • Community-produced products and/or services

Lululemon, a yoga and sports apparel company based in Canada, put customers’ need for community to good use. Their stores provide not only athletic clothing, but fitness advice, encouragement, and in-store classes. Special events bring customers together for yoga and conversation, and keep the brand foremost in their minds.

Growing Retail Marketing with Social Media

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — Social Media and Retail Marketing

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Social media advertising has become a vital part of retail marketing. Nearly 60% of consumers in America interact with their favorite brand via social media every day. So, businesses are taking it to the next level to engage new consumers and increase sales.

Real-time interactions are one of the most effective ways to engage people through social media, and many retailers are taking advantage of this already. Additionally, contests, in-store events, and live-streaming question-and-answer sessions enables you to engage with consumers on a more personal level.

Fashion designer Tim Coppens recognized the importance of using Instagram to promote his designs. He capitalized on the visual nature of the fashion world by offering an exclusive look at his new menswear collection through the app. By engaging customers in a fun and inviting way, you increase your chances of attracting and maintaining loyal customers.

Augmenting Reality Hits Retail Marketing

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — Augmented Reality

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Augmented reality (AR) looks to become more sophisticated in 2018, and its uses in retail marketing will likely follow suit. In fact, AR technology is already being used by some retailers. AR technology is being baked into Apple products, including the iPhone. This should encourage retailers to use it in retail environments.

IKEA is already using the technology. IKEA Place, an iOS-based app, allows users to preview IKEA products right in their home. By using their iPhone to scan the floor of the room, they can select products and preview where they want them in their house.

Optimize Your Marketing by Using Customer Data

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — Using Customer Data

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From account profiles to point-of-sale feedback, the more you know about your customers the better you can serve their needs and keep them coming back for more. Though we have new regulations about data collection and privacy, the value of information is immeasurable for retailers.

Using data acquired from customers, you can:

  • Tailor product recommendations to a customer’s unique profile;
  • More directly and effectively engage influencers; and
  • Make the customer’s experience more personalized.

Walmart is taking advantage of this new trend by using customer data to improve their home delivery system. They’re even exploring facial recognition software in-store to help improve customer experiences from arrival through checkout.

The Personal Touch

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — The Personal Touch

Image via Tyler Olson.

Personal touch has never been more important in retail, and trends in 2018 indicate demands for personalization and customization will continue to grow. Customers want products on demand, but they still look for the unique flair that boutique stores offer. Retailers who focus on getting to know the consumer’s personal preferences and needs will create a rapport with those consumers. Ultimately, that rapport will translate into a lift in current sales as well as customer lifetime value (LTV).

When someone knows and anticipates your needs and desires, it helps to create a more positive and proactive relationship. The same applies to a retailer-consumer relationship. Retailers use the data provided by consumers in their account profiles and shopping data to help them anticipate the consumer’s needs.

Subscriber-based services such as the monthly curated perfume samples from Whiff, Inc., are an example of this in action. Consumers fill out preference profiles and the retailer selects items for them. The products not only fit the specifics of what consumers want, but also anticipate needs and desires the consumer will have based on their data. Consumers value brands who get what they’re looking for, and are willing to allow retailers access to data in return.

Retail On-Demand is In-Demand

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — On-Demand Delivery

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Subscriber-based services bring up another popular trend: direct-to-you shopping. Consumers want what they want, and on-demand delivery is in-demand. Now, many brick-and-mortar type stores, such as pharmacies and grocery stores, are implementing delivery services. For example, Target, Meijer, and Publix all offer same-day delivery through Shipt.

Consumers can order anything from a prescription refill to ingredients for tonight’s dinner, and then get them delivered right to their door. The convenience and dependability of these services attracts more consumers. Even the stay-at-home mom or busy executive can take advantage of this trend, and retailers benefit by building loyal customers in the process.

Retailers aren’t limiting themselves to products, either. In-home services and consultations are a practical way for retailers to offer secondary services that provide value beyond selling products. In a sense, retailers are reviving the traveling salesman of the past.

Large appliance and electronics stores such as Best Buy are putting out feelers. Some send electronics specialists out to consumers to help them choose what they need right from the comfort of home. Meanwhile, others offer in-home services such as furniture assembly.

The In-Store Experience

7 Retail Marketing Predictions to Watch for in 2018 — Boost the In-Store Experience

Image via SFIO CRACHO.

However popular at-home shopping might be, retailers know that the in-store experience is still the most important. The internet leveled the playing field for brands, allowing small indie stores to compete for market share against larger retailers. This omnichannel approach transforms small shops into click-and-mortar businesses and breathes new life into commerce. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, more stores are now opening than closing.

The success of the in-store experience hinges on both what you have to offer and how you present it. Consumers are always looking for personal touches and unique products. So, curated collections and artisanal or local products make successful draws.

Consumers are also drawn by unique and unforgettable shopping experiences. They can buy what they need from home, so if they opt to shop in your physical store you should find new ways to deliver a memorable experience.

Experiential shopping is a fast-growing trend creating an anchor drawing returning customers. Experiential retailing encourages customers to shop by boosting the store brand and products, while also being fun and entertaining.

For example, Lowe’s Home Improvement is venturing into experiential retail. A handful of locations have dedicated rooms in their stores for virtual reality do-it-yourself. Consumers can enter the room, don the VR goggles, and work through the details of a project. The goal is to encourage so-called “threshold” do-it-yourselfers to give their creative projects a go in a safer, and less costly, way.

In the End, it is About Evolving with the Consumer

For retailers, the key to surviving and growing in this ever-changing economic environment is the ability to creatively adapt. Since consumer needs and wants change, sometimes very rapidly, a retailer’s ability to adapt to those changes will determine their success.

By utilizing the wealth of consumer data available, retailers can decide their best course of action. Innovative advertisement platforms, a return to community, and a personal touch all help retailers connect with more consumers, and more importantly, build customer loyalty.

Top image via g-stockstudio.

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