BDO's Mark Schiavello shares his predicted trends that will shape the retail industry in 2019.

In 2018 customers shopped online more than ever before and the competition for consumer spend hit a new high, with a host of major retailers offering free shipping and other benefits which were previously ‘just an option’.

In 2019, consumers’ expectations won’t stand still, they will continue to evolve. They will want greater personalisation. They will want better value. They will want more convenience. They will want excitement, meaning, authenticity social connectivity and more.

Here is my insight into trends that will shape the retail industry in 2019.

Transition from customer experience (CX) to intimate experience (IX)

Data is the new oil. While privacy concerns exist, 55% of consumers expect to receive personalised offers within 24 hours of making themselves known to a brand with 70% expressing frustration at impersonal shopping experiences.

In 2019, millions of consumers will come into contact with next stage personalisation, and that won’t only be via the retail industry. Retailers need to understand their ability to access deep data to make the leap from CX to IX. Ask yourself, how close do we feel to our customers? Do we intuitively know what they want and how to help them?

Brands will leverage augmented reality to market their product

The world’s largest furniture brand understands the importance of its customers’ decision to design a room. If they buy the wrong furniture, it could ruin the look and feel of the room. Ikea has developed an app (IkeaPlace) which allows customers to place furniture in their homes to scale, to experiment with shapes, sizes, colours and the like.

From an apparel perspective, Lacoste is leading the way. Upon launching its streetwear extension brand LCST, Lacoste developed an Augmented Reality global communication campaign, bringing their “Bring the Colour” strapline to life. In its app, Lacoste consumers can trigger images available in-store to try on entire product ranges and interact with Lacoste content.

By leveraging augmented reality, Ikea and Lacoste are making it easier for customers to engage with their product and ultimately, buy more from them.

From free shipping, to free and faster shipping

A recent study found that the amount of time people are willing to wait for free shipping has dropped from 6 days in 2012 to 4 days in 2018. Amazon has turned up the heat on retailers and have made two-day free shipping the norm, so for retailers to deliver a relevant customer experience it is essential to reduce shipping times. This trend will continue in 2019 as brands consider ways to differentiate themselves from a saturated crowd.

Consumers will leverage Chatbots to inform their purchasing decisions

53% of consumers prefer to shop with brands they can directly message on Facebook, so it is important for retailers to set up messenger bots that can cope with welcome conversations and other basic customer interactions (product discovery etc.)

Burberry’s use of this technology enables their consumers to connect with a customer service representative, a consultant and a store locator. By integrating their Chatbot messenger into their retail marketing strategy, Burberry has encouraged greater loyalty, engagement and in-store conversations.

For retailers in 2019, these trends are opportunities. Opportunities to delight existing customers and win new ones.

Contact Mark Schivaello and learn more about how BDO can help your retail business.

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