Exploring the Latest Retail Trends: From ‘Phygital’ Retail to Sustainability and Beyond
The retail landscape is in the midst of a tectonic shift, driven by the convergence of disruptive technology, shifting consumer behaviors, and ever-evolving expectations. To thrive in today’s fast-paced, competitive, environment brands need to keep a finger on the pulse of their audience while remaining agile and adaptive. However, this is much easier said than done, as each buyer generation brings its own set of unique needs, values, and expectations that bear consideration when crafting effective marketing and retail strategies. According to a recent study by PWC almost a third (32%) of customers are willing to leave a brand after just one bad experience, which underscores how critical it is to maintain exceptional brand and service standards.
At Zeta, we understand how important it is for businesses to stay ahead of the curve, which is why we’ve conducted extensive research to explore the latest retail trends reshaping the industry. Over the next few weeks we’ll share a series of articles that unpack our research and teach marketers how to leverage the latest and greatest technologies to better engage Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z.
In this post we’ll cover a small portion of our findings including the rise of “phygital” retail, which blurs the lines between the digital and physical realms, the growing importance of sustainability, experiential retail, loyalty programs, and livestreaming. Buckle up.
Trend 1: “Phygital” Retail
Retail is undergoing a transformative shift as physical and digital experiences converge. The emergence of “phygital” retail is a perfect example, offering a holistic approach that seamlessly blends real-time connectivity with the right product, price, and promotion. Digital commerce is also gaining momentum, with smartphone retail sales projected to surpass $400 billion in 2024. As we emerge from the pandemic, consumers are adopting hybrid shopping habits, combining online and offline elements for enhanced convenience.
Innovations like “buy online, pick up in-store” (BOPIS) allow customers to complete purchases from their couch, then retrieve their items from physical store locations. Retailers are also leveraging digital content and QR codes to engage shoppers in-store, redirecting them to online sales or providing personalized curated recommendations. Furthermore, same-day deliveries are becoming increasingly prevalent, catering to the need for prompt service and satisfying customers’ desire for efficiency.
Trend 2: Self-Serve
Self-Service retail, which has been quietly gaining momentum in the past few years, is now becoming more and more prevalent as brands try to appeal to their customers’ changing habits. The widespread availability of cashless payment options, the omnipresence of smartphones, and the growing demand for alternatives to traditional shopping experiences have all contributed to the rise of self service.
This shift signifies a significant change in customer shopping experiences, as they increasingly seek out fast and convenient options. Moreover, the advent of self-serve kiosks, mobile checkout features, enhanced in-store Wi-Fi, as well as the integration of mobile app functionalities like wayfinding and augmented reality, further underscore the trajectory towards empowering customers to navigate stores and access information autonomously.
Trend 3: Sustainability and Recommerce
With an overwhelming 82% of shoppers calling for brands to adopt sustainable and people centric practices, it is imperative for retailers to incorporate sustainability into their business model. In response to the increasing consumer demand for sustainability, online retailers have been devoting considerable thought to corporate social responsibility and eco-friendly strategies throughout their supply chains.
This shift in consumer expectations, brought on primarily by Gen Z, has ushered in a new era of retail trends and revenue streams, including the introduction of pre-loved and refurbished product ranges, as well as the rapid growth of Recommerce platforms. Therefore, it’s critical for brands to allocate resources to understand how their customer base views sustainability, allowing them to tailor their messaging and promotions for maximum impact.
Trend 4: Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are growing in popularity among retailers, as they offer numerous benefits for both customers and marketers. By focusing on existing customers, retailers can reduce overhead costs associated with acquisition and drive increased retention, leading to increased revenue, referrals, and overall growth.
Loyalty programs incentivize customers with rewards, recognition, and exclusive benefits, fostering long-term relationships and trust while also providing valuable data and feedback, enabling marketers to optimize the buying experience. By embracing a customer centric loyalty program retailers can thrive in today’s uncertain and competitive market.
Trend 5: Livestreaming & Curated Closets
Livestreaming has emerged as a powerful tool for leading brands to dynamically connect with customers and promote their products in a personalized way. Its success is evident as the US livestream market is projected to reach $68 billion by 2026. By leveraging platforms like Instagram and Facebook Live, retailers can showcase their products in real-time, while also engaging with customers by addressing their inquiries and creating a sense of urgency that drives sales.
The addition of curated closets, featuring personally selected clothing and accessories by stylists and influencers, further enhances the personalized shopping experience offered through livestreaming events. This transformative approach is revolutionizing the retail industry, providing customers with innovative ways to shop and connect with their favorite brands. To effectively engage with their customer community, retailers must leverage both push and pull marketing strategies, to establish lasting connections.
As the retail landscape continues to transform and grow, it’s crucial for brands to adapt and embrace new trends and evolving consumer behavior. By understanding and catering to the unique needs of each customer segment marketers can forge deep connections and foster long term loyalty.
To learn more, download our ebook, The Changing Face of Retail: Connecting with Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z to discover invaluable insights that will empower you to navigate with confidence.
Next week we’ll examine how Generation X, Millennials, and Gen Z are reshaping retail and how marketers can engage each generation to create a lasting impact. Stay tuned.