Despite the alarming headlines on the demise of the British high street, online sales still only account for 17% of total retail sales in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.
Retail does remain the single largest private sector employer in the UK, with one in 10 people working in retail and annual sales totalling a staggering £358 billion.
But between the uncertainty brought about by Brexit not to mention declining footfall and sales, many are wondering how the retail industry will perform in the coming year.
We don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us exactly what the future holds for retailers, but here are some retail trends which independent stores should prepare for in 2020.
- SUSTAINABILITY – More and more retailers will participate in the ‘circular economy’
It will come as no surprise at all that sustainability is hugely important to today’s consumers, in fact a recent survey revealed that 62% of young consumers in the UK would consider buying from brands that were more transparent with their environmental impact. Indeed, 63% stated that they would stop using brands that are harmful to the environment.
Rather than the traditional linear economy route of ‘make, use and dispose’, the circular economy aims to minimise waste and promote sustainability. This is achieved by keeping resources in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recovering and regenerating products and materials at the end of each service life.
Independent retailers in the United Kingdom aim to increase sustainable products by 33% in 2020, they will achieve this by eliminating waste and the continual use of resources through reusing and recycling and finding innovative ways to make the manufacturing process more sustainable and by offering incentives and discounts to customers in return for bringing back their used products.
- LOCAL HEROES – Community-building and participation will be more important than ever
Retailers are finding that creating a sense of community can help brands set themselves apart and build stronger relationships with their customers. This in turn, drives sales and loyalty.
This might be showcasing and selling works from local artists. This cultivates relationships between local artists and customers by creating an environment in which people can meet and learn from artists directly and make a direct connection.
- HOW TO PAY – Payment flexibility will continue to be vitally important
Flexibility is absolutely key when it comes to payments. While cash and credit cards won’t disappear anytime soon, consumers will continue to look for more convenient and flexible ways to pay. Mobile payments will gain momentum in the future, as will “buy now pay later” solutions.
The importance of offering a choice of convenient payment options that allow customers to better manage their finances, shouldn’t be underestimated. Consumer research revealed that 66% would spend more with a retailer if they offered more payment options.
- SOCIALLY RESPONSIBILITY – Values and social responsibility is more important than ever
Corporate social responsibility is more than just a buzzword. More and more retailers have come to realise that giving back isn’t just helping to make the world a little bit better, but that it’s also good for business.
UK consumers are leading the way when it comes to prioritising Corporate Social Responsibility and as such, we can expect more retailers to invest in CSR efforts to ensure that they’re making a positive social, environmental and political impact in their communities and the rest of the world.
- BEHIND THE SCENES – Backoffice technology should be a priority over fancy, customer-facing tech
While customer-facing technology like virtual reality and touch screens are having an increasingly large presence in modern-day retail, this year will also show that retailers are prioritising their back-end tools for inventory management, supply chain and customer data.
Tech that enables behind the scenes capability like ensuring that retailers have the right products at the right time are absolutely critical to every retailers success and it can totally streamline and modernise a retailers’ operations.
For example, cloud-hosted point of sales systems and applications such as OpSuite can enable the retailer to work and manage multiple shops and sites, and have complete oversight from any location. By understanding how your systems and software can talk to each other via APIs, will ultimately help you make decisions and save you time.
Retailers in the United Kingdom are undoubtedly facing challenging times and that is set to continue. According to the British Retail Consortium, a third of Britain’s retail jobs could vanish by 2025.
But things are not as bleak as the media loves to portray it. Leading international analyst Euromonitor, predicts that even by 2022, 83% of goods will still be bought in-store globally.
We are a long way from an online-only future, people still do enjoy visiting the high street and while some bricks and mortar shops are closing, other online shops are seeking a high-street presence!
As the high street continues to change, retailers which bridge the gap between digital and real-world interactions will prosper. Those retailers that work hardest to acquire customer knowledge and put it to good use will be best placed to compete in the future.
We hope that you find this article about new trends and consumer behaviour thought provoking, the good news is that RMS have a full range of retail solutions which will mean you are more than ready for the challenges which lie ahead. Whether your retail operation is single site, multi-site or omni channel, RMS can deliver a range of seamless benefits to your retail operation including stocktaking, inventory management, performance analysis and reporting and the ability to track customer behaviour in real time.