Shopping is increasingly happening online, and for an industry like retail – worth £366 billion last year in the UK – the implications are big. Recently, Wired took a look at the future of retail and what that means for Europe. Here now are the latest trends taking shape.
- Sustainability – recycling is no longer regulated to placing plastics in the blue bin. Increasingly, retailers are finding ways to recycle inventory and supplies as opposed to burying them. “One tonne of leather costs £410 to bury in the ground,” Kresse Wesling from luxury fashion brand Elvis & Kresse told Wired. “Transform it into our system, and it will be worth a £100,000 product.”
- New Products, Fast – “In the current climate, speed is all that matters,” says Kerry Liu, CEO of Rubikloud. One solution for producing product faster is through artificial intelligence. By using AI, retailers can collect and use data on such things as inventory and financial forecasts to make intelligent decisions.
- Wireless and invisible payment – People love to shop, but they hate physically spending money. With the rising popularity of Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay, technology is making it easier and faster for customers to pay for items. Also take into consideration services such as Uber or DoorDash, where payment is built-in to the transaction process with nothing extra for the customer to do.
- Appealing to consumers through chat bots – while consumers are shopping online, savvy retailers are developing AI chat bots to assist customers through the process by making recommendations based on their likes. It’s all about making the customer experience more enjoyable and personable.
- Remove the friction – customers are highly demanding these days and they expect nothing short of exceptional customer service. Facebook’s group director Martin Harbech told Wired, “[consumer] expectations are rising incredibly fast.” By applying tech like wireless payments, customized AI, and relevant, sustainable inventory, retailers can go a long ways towards creating a frictionless shopping experience.
- Make friends with your customers – Experts are predicting that brick and mortar will still be around for the foreseeable future, but expectations for in-store experiences may undergo a radical shift. Instead of a place to buy items, stores will become a place to build relationships. “Future retail is moving from transactional to relational,” Emilie Colker, executive director at IDEO told Wired, “Brands will use the offline space to create more opportunities for people to connect with the products.”
Another vital aspect to staying relevant in the near future is developing a liquidation program to help offset the costs associated with returned and overstock items. B-Stock provides an online liquidation auction platform that directly connects retailers to small business owners running discount and clearance stores. Contact us for a demo today.