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Industry insight: 2014 trends in retail
The retail industry is positioned to be one of the strongest economic areas for hiring in 2014. LinkUp’s database indicates retail has the highest number of new and total job openings thus far. With the economy turning around and various trends boosting the bottom line, retail continues to evolve in numerous ways.
Here are some of the top trends for retail in 2014:
1. Mobile shopping apps
Smartphone technology continues to engage consumers and drive sales. Think about smartphone apps like Target’s Cartwheel or Shopkick. Mobile payment options are growing as well, like Google Wallet and Dwolla. The key to ensuring technology enhances the consumer experience is an adequately trained staff who understands how shoppers are using the technology and can keep the sales process moving forward.
2. Big data analytics
There are more ways than ever before for retailers to learn about consumer spending patterns and shopping habits. Oftentimes that data is pulled from the very technology consumers use during the shopping experience. Retailers can gain deep insights about consumer behaviors, an opportunity that should not be ignored. It’s important to invest in the right people and technology to pull and analyze important data in order to provide a better customer experience and turn higher profits.
One of the downfalls of consumers using technology in retail environments is show-rooming – the act of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store and then ordering the item online at a lower price. Smart retailers will be proactive about implementing strategies to limit lost sales through show-rooming. What’s a good way to keep sales in-house? Focus on the value-add of the physical store environment. For example, offer a superior customer service experience, tout loyalty programs and advertise in-store only sales.
4. Data protection
In many ways, the Target data breach opened the eyes of retailers to the very present risks of data theft. People know that more information is being collected about them than ever before (see point 2), and many are leery about how well retailers are protecting this valuable data. IT security is a must to protect retail customers’ information and your store’s reputation. It’s also a smart idea to have a solid crisis plan in place should a breach ever occur.
Long gone are the days that consumers simply waited for the Sunday ads and then headed to their favorite stores. Today, omni-channel retailing is the norm – meaning consumers are receiving messaging through a multitude of forms including email, online ads, TV, radio, catalogues, etc. Marketing and messaging should align throughout all channels. Employees across these channels must be trained well to work together and integrate efforts. This helps ensure successful internal processes, as well as a seamless customer experience.
How is your retail company addressing these trends so you can stay top of mind with consumers and keep in the black?