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Retail is a changing game, and those playing have to constantly adapt, whether it’s to technology or the whims of consumers. There are opportunities abound for clever retailers who think outside the (big) box, especially those who know how to work their online and physical channels to their advantage. Here are five trends that will change the retail game in 2016.
Retail doesn’t have to be a long game, if you’re a retailer who doesn’t need a whole lot of infrastructure in order to sell your wares. Pop up shops are setting up short term leases with some precincts, like Brisbane’s James Street, having dedicated spaces just for this kind of retail. Online retailers, like Everingham and Watson, only pop up during the lead up to Christmas, saving on the overheads and using the time to build hype that carries over to their online store over the rest of the year.
Even retailers who have a more permanent approach are no longer hanging around for 20 years, existing sometimes for 2 years in a space before transitioning to online and back again. Of course, this approach comes with added costs of set up, so isn’t ideal for all retailers, but is a paradigm shift in the way we look at physical retail.
Big box collaboration
Big box retailers are wooing the cool kids. The big box stores are no longer wastelands of chain stores, but are reaching out to smaller, socially savvy physical and ecommerce stores for pop ups and longer term leases in an attempt to bring a little bit of cool to their spaces. There’s opportunities for smaller retailers, who need to value what they bring to negotiations, whether that’s social media followers or design cred.
It’s nothing new that rents are prohibitive for independent and boutique retailers, particularly in capital cities. Shop owners are starting to look at the second floor as an option, but it’s still tricky to get conservative shoppers up the stairs. Brisbane’s Showroom recently undertook this challenge to create a modern retail loft in a second floor space. This is where a strong social media following comes in hand.
Mobile shopping is now the new norm. Users are not only researching purchases before they get to the shops, they are continuing to do so when they arrive, comparing prices and deals online. In 2016, Forrester forecasts that, in the US, more than 30 per cent of consumers will use mobile at some point throughout the purchase life cycle. Having a website that’s mobile friendly is no longer a ‘nice to have’.
Peak Stuff & Buying Less
Some retailers are calling it – we’ve reached peak ‘stuff’. Consumers are easing off the purchase pedal and are just buying less. Millennials particularly have been credited with the shift towards buying ideas instead of things, but technology in general has seen a shift towards ‘the cloud’ and meant we think differently about ownership. The result doesn’t have to be that we are buying less, but that we are buying more mindfully, which means the onus is on retailers to tell the story of their products and convince us why they are worthy of a place in our home.
The trends don’t stop here, as data, personalisation and omnichannel retail will all feature heavily in 2016, and there are plenty of opportunities for small retail businesses.
Claire Deane is the founder of Deane and Co. She’s an experienced business coach who, after working in digital marketing for over 10 years, realised the biggest barrier for small businesses was a lack of confidence in how to leverage a presence on the web. Claire is passionate about helping business owners work smarter and increase their bottom line.