As we prepare to head to the NRF big show, we can’t help but think about what’s ahead for retailers in 2017. The New Year is an appropriate time to look ahead, but also a good occasion to reflect back.
2016 included an announcement of Avaap’s strategic partnership with Infor Retail and new merchandise financial planning solution. As consumer behaviors from increased mobile purchases to shopping from more screens continue to accelerate change, more retailers are gaining awareness that creating unique experiences is what resonates with consumers.
Here are a few of our predictions for what we’ll see in retail in the coming year:
More retailers will take advantage of new technology that makes planning easier
No surprise that the largest Infor systems integrator thinks interest in technology is on the upswing, but with changing consumer buying behavior, savvy retailers need to start analyzing online and offline data together and stop operating in silos. Assortment planning solutions are more accessible and affordable even for smaller retailers, providing visibility across the operation so retailers can understand what sells and where they’re making a profit. Getting assortment planning right with less manual steps and more data-driven insight will help achieve these goals, accelerating the trend toward assortment planning solutions. Big box retailers have already begun to reap the benefits of assortment planning solutions, and in 2017, we’ll see more retailers implement the technology to take a more strategic approach to assortment planning.
More retailers will leverage the power of predictive analytics
More retailers are facing increased pressure to accurately match consumer buying habits with bottom line results. In an earlier post, we touched on how relying solely on sales history to predict future sales was not enough for retailers to accurately plan for upcoming seasons. Predictive analytics and machine learning can increase planning, forecasting and merchandising accuracy, ensuring the right mix of merchandise is available at the right time and at the right cost – whether online or in a physical store. With 45 percent of online shoppers more likely to shop online and on a site that offers personalized recommendations, retailers that leverage the power of predictive analytics will have the best chance at creating best-in-class experiences and standing out in the market.
Retailers that get unified experience right will succeed
Customer experience has become the new differentiator, with 89 percent of industry leaders making it their primary competitive advantage. Omnichannel was a big talking point in 2016 and now it’s time to change talk into action. 69 percent of shoppers who used click and collect last holiday season purchased additional items while picking up in store, illustrating opportunity for more attention to creating a unified customer experience.
Wearable technology will continue to gain traction with more retailers incorporating the technology to create one-of-a-kind experiences, requiring a good understanding of their customer base and behaviors. One piece of advice: make sure these experiences are authentic and don’t come off as gimmicky, or risk pushing away loyal customers.
Personalized, unified customer experiences guided by planning and forecasting tools will be the big news in 2017. Check back next week when we return from the big show and we’ll let you know other big announcements!
Andy Cariveau is vice president of Retail at Avaap, where he is responsible for enhancing the customer experience with Infor software including tools that can help create a modern approach to retail forecasting and item planning. Andy will be at the National Retail Federation big show in booth #2854 January 16-17.