5 research-backed retail concepts to embrace this year

There has been a rapid shift in consumer behavior amid the transformation in the retail industry, where consumers demand more flexibility in how, when, why and where they shop. To stay ahead, it’s important to not just understand what’s on the horizon for 2018, but to embrace the positive progression of the industry.

How consumers are reshaping retail

NRF examines consumer attitudes and experiences shaping today’s retail environment in its quarterly Consumer View. See the latest data.

At NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, Lee Peterson, EVP of brand, strategy and design at design firm WD Partners, discussed the top retail concepts to keep an eye on based on recent research conducted by the organization. Considered with NRF’s Consumer View data, the elusive customer becomes clearer. Here are some highlights:

1. Buy online, pick up in store: According to WD’s study, 53 percent of consumers were interested in the ability to buy online and pick up in-store. NRF’s Consumer View found that two out of three consumers who have tried buy online, pick up in store, say it improved their shopping experience. Macy’s has been offering buy online, pick up in store but has recently added lockers for easier pick up.

2. Talking tech: Virtual assistants are rapidly growing in popularity. Approximately four out of 10 consumers are interested in talking technology like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, according to WD’s study.

3. Showrooms: Showroom stores seems to be the store of the future. According to WD’s study, about six out of 10 digital natives (consumers under 30) are interested in this concept. Digital immigrants (consumers over 45) are less interested yet show more interest when this concept is introduced to them a second time. A popular showroom store is Nordstrom Local, Nordstrom’s first store without inventory.

4. Experiential retail: WD’s study found that half of surveyed consumers are interested in experiential retail events. According to NRF’s Consumer View, the top reason consumers are interested is to try out products and brands. An example is how Outdoor Voices took selling fitness apparel a step further by offering exercise classes at its bricks-and-mortar stores.

5. On-site food service: For young people, shopping and eating go together. According to WD’s study, 63 percent of Millennials and Generation Z consumers were interested in eating while shopping at their favorite stores. NRF found that top reason consumers are shopping at retail stores more is because of the entertainment and food options. Restoration Hardware decided to cater to these consumers by opening its 3 Arts Club Café inside its flagship store.

Throughout the session, Peterson reiterated a Japanese proverb: “The reverse side also has a reverse side.” Although it’s important for retailers to be aware of emerging retail concepts on the horizon, it’s also important to understand what you are currently working with, and where to go from there.

To follow more consumer trends, check out NRF’s Consumer View.

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