The start of each new year is a time for new beginnings and opportunities. After singing our rounds of “Auld Lang Syne” and clinking our glasses to ring in the start of 2023, the retail industry can shift its focus on how to best perform during this new year with the same sense of celebratory vigor. 2023 will continue to see similar trends from 2022 in consumer behavior, but with economic inflation and talk of a potential recession, there is always an increasing need to meet the current demands of shoppers while adapting to the market.
According to Forrester’s “Predictions 2023: Retail Report,” the strongest companies will be what they deem as future-fit. This means they will “leverage technology that enables their company to quickly reconfigure business structures and capabilities to meet future customer and employee needs with adaptivity, creativity, and resilience.” The following predictions can help businesses prepare for what’s ahead in 2023 and adapt to the rising consumer trends.
Brick-and-mortar stores will continue to thrive as online sales decrease
In what Forrester has dubbed the “e-pocalypse” of retail, brands that rely solely on their online presence will falter during 2023. They predict that 75 percent of U.S. retail sales in 2023 will take place in stores, with a rise in online orders that have the option for in store pickup. For this upcoming year, it’s essential that businesses ramp up their brand’s physical space as we resort back to our pre-pandemic buying behaviors.
Prepare for automation and AI to assist in retail labor shortages
Retailers are still continuing to face challenges in finding employees, and this is unlikely to change in the near future. However, a strategic approach to automation and AI can help smooth over this difficulty for businesses. Store owners can consider investing in self-checkout stations or use digital platforms to assist in online customer service or task management. The insight from AI can help personalize products for consumers through data collection and image recognition (with shopper consent). Compiling these details can also help AI to serve as a personal shopping assistant to cater the experience specifically to the individual. Small advancements can go a long way in managing otherwise tedious projects and save time and money for the company. For the employees that you do manage to hire, don’t forget to help them feel a sense of healthy fulfillment and appreciation in working for your small business.
Curated personal shopping experiences will flourish
Customers tend to make regular visits to a brand that makes the experience for each shopper feel both unique and valuable. In order to continue attracting repeat shoppers, brands should promote discounts and promotions to their loyal VIP members. Paying attention to shopping trends within your own store merchandise and stocking up on similar items will help shoppers feel important in contributing to your store’s overall goals and aesthetic. The past few years have seen tremendous success in immersive concept store experiences, such as the community-driven Nike Live pop-up stores. Generating an event, or temporary exhibit to help customers interact with your products, helps to generate a culture for your brand and a much stronger, lasting impact on your shoppers than a simple visit to the store.
E-commerce will thrive through social media
As stores use social media to build community and interest in their brand, 2023 will see a continued drive in sales through these platforms. Beyond the basic advertising a company can do for their store, brands can livestream their products, partner with influencers who promote their merchandise, and generate shoppable advertising. Cue social commerce, the ability for a full shopping experience to take place entirely on social media apps. According to Forbes, “[i]n 2021, global social commerce sales reached $492 billion, but it is expected to nearly triple by 2025 to reach $1.2 trillion.” Taking advantage of these platforms is no longer just an added benefit for company sales, but a requirement.
Reviews and ratings will carry more weight
Because retail trends tend to rely on digital engagement, that means even with increased in store shopping, consumers are likely to look up products online before making a commitment. According to a poll led by Intelligence Node, 41% responded that reviews and ratings are the most prominent factor in determining if a purchase will be made. It’s important to encourage reviews from your customers, but also to engage with them when they potentially find a problem or disappointment. It’s equally as important for customers to see how a store handles these minor setbacks. It builds further trust that the brand is an advocate for the consumers and is willing to go above and beyond to find solutions.
As the retail industry continues to adapt to an ever-changing society, the most important aspect to remember is for brands to stay true to themselves and their core values. Today’s consumer wants honesty and transparency, whether it be their search for sustainability, a brand that aligns with their own efforts in activism, a sense of community, or happiness in the quality of an incredible product. Showcasing the essence of the brand will always help carry your business forward. To help make this process easier, add in those efforts to advance with the latest technologies and trends to help your business succeed in 2023.