Revamping Retail: Predictions for 2018

Amar Kulkarni
By: Amar Kulkarni
Date: January 15, 2018

NRF is here again! With retail’s big show in full swing, we’re taking a break from the excitement to take a look at the top retail trends in 2018.

Individualized Personalization

Consumers will continue to look for unique, personalized experiences. In 2017, several retailers including Stitch Fix, Fabletics, and Nordstrom Local paved the way for personalization through tailored recommendations, personal stylists and mass customization. This year, these experiences are expected to drill down even more narrowly from “personalization through segmentation to personalization through individualization.” It will be exciting to see different brands take on the task.

With more choice and customization available on the market than ever before, retailers have cut down premade inventory in favor of demand-based production, allowing them to trim their physical assets. From property and storefronts to on-premise data storage, companies are migrating to leased property and cloud-based services. For some retailers, this means acquiring or partnering with digital-based companies to create an asset balance as well as strong partnerships. American grocery company Albertson’s acquisition of Plated is one example of these strategic partnerships that will be a guiding point for similar digital plus physical match ups in the coming year.

Augmented Reality

While augmented reality was a buzz word in 2017, mostly seen as personal entertainment in apps such as Pokémon Go and Snapchat, the technology abilities and availability have skyrocketed over the past year. Retailers now have the ability to give customers a taste of their products from the comfort of their home.

From trying on makeup to placing furniture in a living room, augmented reality will be a real game changer for retailers who embrace the technology. Augmented programs create an easier buying experience for customers, allowing them to interact with the brand on their own terms, increasing customer satisfaction while lowering returns and exchanges for retail organizations.

The Omni-Channel Experience

From online orders to in-person purchases, and from big box stores to mom-and-pop shops, early January brings an influx of returns. According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of consumers waited until the last minute to finish up their shopping, significantly raising the chances for picking up the wrong gift. Wrong sizes, incorrect colors, and duplicates are just a handful of the many reasons for purchased gifts make their way back to sellers.

Although much of this holiday season’s shopping took place online, more than 18 percent compared to last year, many consumers and gift-receivers still prefer to return items to physical storefronts. To accommodate consumer preferences, Amazon is expanding their return policy to include eligible items to be returned in person at select Whole Foods and Kohls stores. The idea of the omni-channel experience is still alive and well, calling the need for technology with real-time inventory data and accurate forecasting.

Another take on easing the chaos of high volume in returns starts at ordering. Stores such as Target and Barnes and Noble are using technology that allows shoppers to choose items they think recipients will like and when an order is placed, the recipient will receive a communication about the gift, allowing them to accept, adjust or exchange for an equal or lower priced item, greatly reducing returns and costs.

To learn more about how Avaap can help your retail organization take advantage of modern retail technology to advance business goals, enhance customer experiences, and lower costs, use the contact form below. At the show? Connect with Avaap in booth #3421.

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