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Spring 2013
Digital Trends to Keep an Eye On

Selling product is no longer simply a matter of “build it and they will come.” Find out what specialty retail trends continue to dominate the retail landscape and what they mean for your business.

Americans are connected to technology 24/7. The Huffington Post reported in 2012 that a staggering number of Americans have developed a smartphone addiction and simply cannot go a day without checking their device. Last year, we witnessed the continuing evolution of social media and mobile marketing. What does this mean for you as retailer? Technology will continue to play a critical role. Stay ahead of the competition by incorporating these retail trends into your business strategy:

Trend #1: Social and mobile marketing continue to dovetail

Social and mobile marketing strategies are beginning to converge as consumers turn to their smartphones more often than the computer to conduct online searches. According to Next Web, Inc., more than 60% of Facebook’s users are currently accessing the site through a mobile phone.

What does this mean for you: Retail entrepreneurs must continue to develop a strong mobile social media strategy. Social media and mobile ecommerce are not going away and businesses that embrace and innovate using these platforms will thrive.

Trend #2: The Savvier Shopper

Shoppers are more educated than ever before. The showrooming trend—where consumers visit retailers to look at the goods in person and then buy them online—will increase. The savvy, value-loving shopper will research products online, visit brick-and-mortar stores to see the products first-hand and then buy online at the lowest price.

What does this mean for you:  It’s imperative that you continue to develop a strong web presence by listing as much of your store’s inventory online as possible. Additionally, marketing investments in online advertising such as a Google Ad Words program could yield new customers. Work on maximizing customer service so that when customers come into the store they feel inclined to buy based on the amazing service they receive.

Trend #3: Cash elimination

There is a continued explosion in mobile payment acceptance. Innovative companies leading the way in this area include Square and PayPal. Many retailers have mobile payment apps of their own. We will increasingly see retailers getting a chance to go cashless, favoring electronic payments.

What does this mean for you: This trend could offer you the opportunity to stop accepting cash, which will ease employee theft and human error handling the cash.  However, you can expect to pay more in fees as more consumers pay via credit card.

Trend #4: Shoppertainment

While consumers have been seeking an entertainment component during the shopping experience for over a decade now, this will continue to play an even bigger role.  Shoppers are hungry for retail experiences that not only provide them with the products they are searching for, but also an environment that is visually stimulating with a top-notch customer service experience.

What does this mean for you: Consider offering specialized classes and an increased number of store events to engage the customer by offering new experiences that are entertaining.

Trend #5: Clockless day

Last year, many shopping centers and big box stores were open for business for more hours than in previous years. Specifically, malls opened late on Thanksgiving Day and added more hours to Black Friday.

What does this mean for you: Specialty retailers should consider adding additional employees, especially on peak holiday sales’ days, such as Black Friday and Small Business Saturday to turn as many shoppers into customers as possible.

Patricia Norins

Patricia Norins serves as VP of Specialty Retail & Publications at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Considered the authority on specialty retail, she has been tracking the industry for the past thirty years. Norins is Publisher of Specialty Retail Report, the voice of the specialty retail industry (carts, kiosks and pop-up stores). SRR has a readership of more than 75,000 each quarter.
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