As we close on this year and look forward to the next, some of the big (and eternal) questions in retail are, “What’s next? What will consumers want in 2020 and how can we stay one step ahead of the competitor?”
As a consumer, I’m asking the same questions. The retail landscape has evolved so much over the past few years that it’s hard to tell what is yet to come. Similar to iPhone updates, will it be an addition to something we already have? Or will it be completely new and innovative; something that changes the game completely? Like many consumers, I’ve done my fair share of shopping, both online and in-store this year. Following are a few 2020 retail trends I’m expecting to take off next year.
Intelligent technology enhances the customer experience
While shopping a women’s clothing store in downtown San Francisco I discovered some smart technology that I hadn’t seen there before. Upon entering the dressing room to try on some selected clothing, I saw a monitor, like a large iPad, connected to the wall.
The curious customer that I am, I immediately turned it on to see what it could do. It allowed me to scan items, see their price (even if they were discounted), and calculate the total based on all the items that I scanned. That’s something I never even knew I needed, but it did fill a gap. Oftentimes I go into a retail store – specifically clothing – and try a lot of items on, then use the calculator on my phone to calculate the price, which is even harder when items are marked down. This retailer delivered a great customer experience and filled a gap I didn’t even know existed!
Online to in-store, in-store to online
Another 2020 retail trend that’s sure to continue is online retail moving to physical stores, and vice versa.
In the age of “I want this, and want it now”, customers expect immediate gratification and satisfaction. As one of the largest online retailers on the planet, Amazon continues to innovate and stay one step of the customer – and competition.
Realizing and capitalizing on the need for immediate gratification, Amazon has opened physical stores to complement their online marketplace. For example, Amazon bookstores are opening across the nation, so consumers who can’t wait for the two days for Prime Shipping can go pick up their books in-store.
That once hard line between online and physical stores has slowly begun blurring. The amount of competition in the market has expanded tenfold, so if retailers aren’t keeping up with consumer trends, they’ll slowly but surely be forgotten.
On the other hand of immediate gratification, there are retailers who open up ‘pop up shops’ or showrooms. These tend to be online e-commerce retailers who want to test out the physical store approach. An example of this is Everlane, an online clothing boutique that opened up a showroom in the Bay Area.
The showroom wasn’t stocked like a typical retail store. While it carried samples of the apparel and shoes so consumers could physically see the options and sizes, but you still had to order online. Unlike Amazon, the goal for these showrooms isn’t immediacy, and it still requires time for the company to ship the item of choice to the customer. However, the stores are meant to enhance the customer experience, assisting consumers like me who are cautious of shopping for clothing and fashion online – since clothing sizes vary with every retailer, having a physical store where customers can touch and try on the clothes before purchasing is incredibly helpful.