4 Things to Expect From Retail in 2020

With the end of the decade approaching rapidly, it’s natural that we turn our eyes to what 2020 will hold. We have already done a lot of planning for next year and part of that has been looking to our clients from a number of different industries and looking ahead to what trends are coming down the pipeline, ultimately helping us shape the year to come. 

What trends do we see for the year ahead?

Woman standing in a store looking at clothing


The role of data 

Personalization is not living up to its name so far with regards to consumer expectations. Using consumer data is a touchy subject right now as consumers are concerned about how it is collected, what it is being used for, and how it is stored. It would appear that many consumers are unsatisfied with how their data is being used, forcing businesses to consider if the reward outweighs the risk.

AI recommendation engines or algorithms to select ‘personalized’ offers show that brands and venues are invested in investing, but that they still need to do some work to ensure that their valuable dollars are going to the right digital avenues for their customer base. The data is there, now it’s time to really put it to use in a way that engages shoppers. 


Evolving customer expectations of brands 

As the limits of technology continue to expand with what is possible, customer expectations of the brands they interact with will also grow. Customer comfort with technology in a retail environment is at an all-time high, and there are more investments than ever being made into innovation and technology to enhance the experience from top to bottom. 


Renewed focus on the retail experience 

The National Retail Federation (NRF)’s predictions for 2020 are worth looking at as well, particularly their projection for retail experiences

“Success in 2020 is grounded in offering an incredible retail experience: How retailers tell a story, how shoppers experience it and the emotional connection that’s left behind will allow vigilant businesses to raise the bar.” In order to pull customer attention away from a world’s worth of selection, investing in story-telling, hands-on experience, and a quality product will ensure the attention of consumers. 

There is a reason that digital native brands are opening pop-ups and physical stores. They recognize that there is still a need to be able to connect and communicate with customers beyond a screen, and that brand loyalty is a valuable commodity in the age of choice. 

With many venues moving towards becoming mixed-use spaces, and the continued rise of non-traditional tenants like digitally native brands, plus the new wave of ‘recommerce’ - thrifting and purchasing second-hand items; it's safe to say that the landscape in 2020 will be drastically different for retail. 


The need for omnichannel

“Driving this blurring of lines is retailers’ realization that the newest evolution of retail is about providing a holistic experience for consumers. Always looking for ways to create a competitive advantage, retailers are opening their minds to innovative ways of servicing and supporting the customer journey.”

The retail experience needs to be centred around the human aspect of the equation. What do customers want and need? How do you build trust? How do we show a consumer that the value of them is more than the sum of their transactions? The human aspect is what makes everything ‘work’. Without a renewed focus on them, it would be easy to lose track of the changes the industry is going through. An underestimation of this change would be almost as big a mistake as ignoring it entirely. 

Overall, 2020 trends suggest a change and a challenge in the future of retailers. The behaviours of consumers are changing due to interests in sustainability and longevity of products, and retailers and REITs will be adapting in order to continue being the center of that activity.


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