If the past decade is any indication, the 2020s are going to be huge in retail. The industry is radically and rapidly changing as consumers demand a more personal, social, and sustainable approach to shopping. According to a survey of 4,000 consumers, the Gensler Research Institute found that just 56% of shoppers enjoyed the shopping experience. Here are just some of the trends that we can expect as retailers step up to improve the experience, in 2020 and beyond.
1. Delivering a better experience
In a world of Amazon Prime and next day delivery, shoppers expect their purchase within days of ordering. Studies show that 88% of consumers are willing to pay for same-day – or even faster – shipping. Farfetch has begun trialling 90-minute delivery in 10 cities, while Net-a-Porter has started offering a ‘you try, we wait’ same-day delivery option. In a further drive for customer convenience, Waitrose has partnered with Yale to trial a ‘while you’re away’ delivery option that drops off items inside of customers’ homes.
Delivery is a crucial area for innovation, as customers remain frustrated by inconvenience, cost, and environmental impact of traditional options. One solution is to incorporate elements of traditional concierge services, which allow shoppers to try on their purchases at home with a stylist. Adopting this more personal delivery experience helps bridge the gap between shopping online and in physical shop locations.
2. AI-powered personalisation
Online shoppers want to compare prices, styles, and delivery dates, and see recommendations of items they might be interested in – all in one place. AI offers a way to do this, and it will only become more capable over the coming year.
Smart systems promise to make shopping a simpler, more personalised experience. From getting to know a customer’s style to bundling deliveries and offering discounts at just the right time, technological improvements promise to improve shopping for both customers and retailers. Similarly, businesses can analyse shoppers’ data to streamline supply chains and reduce the number of returns.
3. Shopping socially
The overlap between social media and e-commerce is growing. Retailers are discovering that prominent networks like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are perfect places to push their products through influencers and targeted ads. Last year, Instagram introduced a ‘shopping’ option to posts, allowing users to buy products from over 20 retailers, all from within the app.
Instagram’s ‘Explore’ tab also offers a shopping-focused section, where brands and accounts that a user follows are combined with posts that Instagram’s algorithm suggests based on browsing behaviour. The company says that these tags already earn more than 130 million taps each month, and it’s clear that this trend will continue in 2020.
4. Sustainability drive
Rental fashion is another major trend that the industry can expect to see in 2020. According to a parliamentary committee report, the fashion industry is a major contributor to climate change, with the textile industry alone creating 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 a year, and consuming vast quantities of water. Meanwhile, 35% of the microplastics in the ocean can be traced back to synthetic fibres in the clothing.
Environmentally-conscious customers are looking to alternatives, and this is one reason for the boom in everyday-wear rental. Rent the Runway leads the US market, and while the UK has been slower to catch on to the trend, several companies such as Girl Meets Dress, My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr now rent out designer labels for a monthly subscription.
5. Digital clothes
‘Digital clothing’ may seem like an oxymoron, but the concept is already gaining traction. Look no further than the growth of digital-only ‘influencers’ like Miquela Sousa, a 19-year-old with over a million Instagram followers… who is entirely computer-generated.
Customers can even buy augmented reality (AR) digital clothes to post wearing on social media, and brands have released digital streetwear collections which are apparently ‘selling out.’ Being digital-only allows designers to create items that can push boundaries of extravagance, and it lets users ‘wear’ something that they might not be daring enough to buy in the real world or can’t afford.
6. 2020 and beyond
Technology is shaking up the retail world as retailers look to meet consumer demand for a more convenient, personal, and sustainable shopping experience. The industry at large – and all points of the customer journey – are ripe for technological disruption, and the companies that are willing to take a chance to change the status quo will be the ones that define the next decade.
Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.