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Top 10 disruptive retail trends for 2016

BY Dan Berthiaume

NEW YORK — Enterprise technology provider Software AG is expecting retail to become an increasingly seamless and store-centric proposition in 2016.
 
“The worlds of e-commerce and brick-and-mortar retail are now seamlessly merging with retailers evolving towards an omnichannel approach to their businesses,” said Oliver Guy, retail industry director, Software AG. “Mobile, cloud, analytics and social media will be fully integrated into a unified merchandising system designed to vastly improve customer engagement. The notion that ‘the store is dead’ is not, in our opinion, the future – rather, stores will become highly technology-enabled to deliver a super-personalized customer experience and become the hub of omnichannel customer-centricity. These new predictions highlight our view of the retail industry in the coming year.”
 
Here are Software AG’s top 10 disruptive digital trends it is predicting for 2016:
 
1. Brick-and-mortar stores will add fewer new outlets as they take a “hub and spoke” approach, acting as pick up and fulfillment centers with the “endless aisle” concept extending shelf space to the brand’s full catalogue of products and accessible content.
 
2. Customer-centric personalization will be the must-have differentiator for retailers and will become much more targeted as retailers tap into internal information, known preferences, and social media data to better understand and delight their customers.
 
3. Differentiation by price will be much more dynamic in nature, with real-time electronic shelf pricing replicating customers’ online experiences.
 
4. The complexity of omnichannel processes and how these interact with multiple systems will need further control; a kind of “mission control” center where retailers can see and control every activity across all channels.
 
5. Predictive analytics in retail will enable stores to know, with a great deal of certainty, what customers are going to want and when.
 
6. The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to revolutionize the store of the future, with its sensor-oriented devices enabling the most detailed and targeted customer centricity.
 
7. Futuristic technology, such as augmented reality, beacons, and anonymous analytical face detectors, will immerse customers in the shopping experience.
 
8. Real-time monitoring capability will be critical for the store of the future, in order to sense, correlate and automate processes from staffing to inventory.
 
9. Retailers will further customize and personalize instant gratification “buy buttons”, with the expectation that these will translate into higher earnings. But they will need to make strategic technology investments to ensure real-time inventory is understood and the complex processes involved in new channels are orchestrated correctly.
 
10. Real-time inventory visibility will dominate as retailers strive to keep the customers informed of stocks at all times. Retailers will control inventories by applying technology that shows inventory levels across all channels.
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Target aims for shoppers who like surprises

BY Gina Acosta

MINNEAPOLIS — Target is looking to generate excitement online this holiday season with a just-launched promotion aimed at shoppers who love subscription services like Birchbox.
 
Target has just launched a specially designed collection of boxes called Wonderpacks, which the retailer says are “meant to inspire and capture family fun.”
 
The kits, available on target.com, are curated and contain a combination of products to create experiences, from a game-packed road trip to sledding after sunset, the retailer says.
 
The retailer plans to release a total of 12 themed Wonderpacks including “Disco Bath Time,” to make bath time for the kiddos "way more fun," “Couch Camping,” which includes s’mores without the campfire, and more designed to appeal to everyone from children to grandparents.
 
Target is also using Facebook's Canvas e-commerce ads to push sales of Wonderpacks. A corresponding ad campaign will employ Canvas' full-screen mobile ads to show people what the product looks like.
 
To see a gallery of Target's Wonderpacks, click here.
 
Subscription box services like Birchbox or Target's new Wonderpacks offer a convenient way for shoppers to try different and new products without the legwork of actually going to stores and browsing. Many of these services have been thriving as their unique value proposition, which can’t be matched by brick-and-mortar retailers, appeals to more shoppers.
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