Change is the rule in retailing, including travel retailing. This is underscored by the 10 Trends for 2013 released by JWT, a major marketing communications brand. JWT's Things to Watch in 2013 Retail Report is part of its eighth annual forecast of key trends that will drive or significantly impact consumer mindset and behavior in the year to come.
Key topics include: Play as a Competitive Advantage, The Super Stress Era, Intelligent Objects, Predictive Personalization, The Mobile Fingerprint, Sensory Explosion, Everything Is Retail, Peer Power, Going Public in Private, and Health & Happiness: Hand in Hand.
The top ten trends include:
Ambushed by Amazon: The e-commerce giant started out as a threat to booksellers, but it’s fast becoming Enemy No. 1 to retailers of all stripes now that it sells everything from high-end apparel to wine and has shrunk its delivery times. Amazon will prove an “extremely disruptive force,” as Kantar Retail’s Bryan Gildenberg puts it, with the rise of “showrooming.” For brick-and-mortar shoppers, Amazon’s Flow app quickly reveals the Amazon price, which is generally hard to beat. The e-commerce brand—which could pass Walmart as the world's biggest retailer by 2017, according to consultancy ChannelAdvisor—is also mulling physical stores.
B2C/P2P Partnerships: As the peer-powered marketplace continues to heat up, look for established brands to strike partnerships with fledgling peer-to-peer services as a way to infuse freshness or modernity into their persona, broaden their appeal or get an existing consumer segment to consider the brand in a new light. Both Gap and Pepsi Next recently held promotions with TaskRabbit, which helps users outsource tasks. Initiatives also provide opportunities to learn more about the audience, inner workings and strengths and weaknesses of the P2P world.
Click-and-Collect Shopping: Already gaining popularity in parts of Europe, “click and collect” melds digital and physical commerce by letting customers order online, then pick up the goods (frequently groceries) at a store nearby. It’s hyper-convenient, with retrieval often at curbside. In Europe, retailers including Tesco and Asda in the U.K. and Ahold in the Netherlands now offer the service. A few U.S. retailers are testing the waters, including Ahold’s Peapod. Online retailers including Amazon and eBay are getting into the pickup game too. Look for digital-physical hybrids to expand to more categories, such as home improvement.
Clockless Day: Increasingly in this always-on, globalized world, life is no longer apportioned into neat on/off divisions. As the pace of life speeds up and more people work nontraditional hours, night is day and day is night: Consumers want to continue with their lives 24/7, whether it’s eating, shopping, exercising, working, etc., and businesses will be expected to cater to those expectations. For example, both Macy’s and Toys “R” Us were open around the clock for at least two days leading up to Christmas 2012.
Cutting out the Middleman: The success of vertically integrated e-commerce players like Warby Parker (eyeglasses), Dollar Shave Club ($1 razor blades), Stella & Dot (jewelry) and Bonobos (menswear) will spur a host of new niche brands that cut out middlemen and sell quality products online at below-market rates. We’ll see a range of upstart challengers as the model extends to more categories, from office supplies (Poppin) to bedding (Crane & Canopy).
Dads in the Aisles: With women just as tied up with careers as men, and the ranks of stay-at-home dads multiplying, more marketers will lose their singular focus on moms. Men are taking on more cooking and cleaning, parenting duties and shopping. As they populate the aisles of supermarkets, drugstores, toy stores and more, we’ll see market research taking the male perspective into account, goods retooled for male appeal and messaging that acknowledges the man’s changing role. “Man up, clean up,” P&G’s Swiffer brand is telling men.
Geofencing: Watch for more brick-and-mortar retailers to launch opt-in mobile programs that send SMS promotions or other messages when consumers are in their stores or within range of a store. While the technology has been in place for a few years, more retailers will start adopting it as a way to combat showrooming and survive in today’s hyper-competitive environment. Best Buy, for instance, will be using eBay’s price comparison app, RedLaser, to show shoppers in-store specials and other relevant information. Skin care brand Kiehl’s uses geofencing at its retail outlets and is investigating its use within department stores where Kiehl’s has counters.
Individual Attention: More mass market retailers and hospitality providers will be catering to a growing expectation of superior service. At a time when many transactions are digitized and multinational chains are replacing local vendors, consumers are seeking out friendly faces who can cater to their individual needs. For instance, Target is testing a “beauty concierge” program, and J. Crew’s recently relaunched personal shopper program, now dubbed Very Personal Stylist, is available for free at all stores. More supermarkets are hiring dietitians to help shoppers make nutritious choices. And more restaurants are pampering patrons by relying on software that can track individual preferences; watch for this type of service to trickle down from the higher end.
Online Groceries: Online grocery shopping is slowly going mainstream as more consumers start purchasing across channels. A 2012 global Nielsen survey found that 26 percent of respondents planned to buy food and beverage products using a digital device in the next three to six months, up from 18 percent in 2010. In the U.S., IBISWorld is forecasting annual growth of 9.5 percent in the sector.
Retailers Enable Recycling: In a bid to be more green, apparel sellers are ramping up efforts to keep clothing out of landfills. In 2012, Puma introduced Bring Me Back, adding in-store bins into which shoppers can deposit used clothing and shoes (of any brand); the goods are then reused, upcycled for industrial use or recycled into new raw materials. Starting in February, H&M will similarly start collecting used clothing. And Marks & Spencer offers “shwopping” (shopping + swapping), collecting used garments in collaboration with Oxfam.
Self-Service: Consumers will be doing ever more for themselves as businesses cut labor costs by adding new self-service options. Airlines are putting more control in flyers’ hands with the advent of “tag your own” luggage and self-boarding. Self-checkout is becoming more common in retail, and the advent of “smart carts” and mobile “scan and go” apps will put a new spin on the idea. And mobile health tools are enabling patients to monitor their own vital signs. While the benefits of face-to-face interactions are sacrificed, self-service is often more efficient, and today’s consumers frequently prefer to take the reins.
Shopping Hotels: In Middle Eastern countries including the UAE, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, megamalls with hotels in them are fueling a tourism recovery after the Arab Spring of 2011 took a toll. A Sheraton will open in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates in 2013, and the upcoming Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi will house seven hotels.
Tablet Shopping: As a wider array of consumers adopt tablets and more retailers embrace the platform’s opportunities, watch for Tablet Commerce to take off. The appeal of tablet shopping includes a bigger screen than smartphones; a more lean-back experience and easier touch browsing than traditional e-commerce; and aggregation apps (like Catalogue) that let shoppers scan multiple catalogs simultaneously. In a 2012 Shop.org/Forrester Research study, about half of merchants surveyed reported higher average orders from tablets than PCs or smartphones. Watch for more creative tablet-based offerings from online retailers as shopaholics develop a new guilty pleasure.
Variable Pricing: Airlines and hotels have long charged different prices for the same seat or room, a practice that’s expanding into more categories with a big boost from technology. Prices are shifting based on time of day, competitors’ pricing, fluctuating demand and individual consumer profiles. For instance: Some Amazon vendors rely on software that constantly adjusts their prices; grocers are starting to use loyalty card data to personalize offers; and demand-based pricing is being tested everywhere from parking spaces to restaurants. With the middle market still squeezed, brands will use variable pricing to cater to both the spenders and the savers.
Window Shopping: Store windows are turning into 24/7 retail platforms, via technologies like interactive touch screens and QR codes. In late 2012, PayPal rolled out a test in Amsterdam’s De 9 Straatjes shopping district in which retailers posted QR codes on their storefronts, enabling shoppers with the campaign’s mobile app to scan the code for purchase links to products in the window. And in Germany, shoppers outside one of Adidas’ Neo Label stores were directed to a mobile URL that linked a smartphone with a shopping bag on the window; consumers could then drag products into the bag and buy them or save them for later purchase.