2020 in retail – what will the year bring for your business?

Thursday December 19, 2019 - Posted by:

Being aware of what could be the most important trends of 2020 will help retail businesses stay relevant and maintain positive relationships with their customers.

As businesses prepare for the end of one decade and the start of another, the thoughts of many will be focused on what retail trends their enterprise and wider industry can expect to see in 2020 and beyond.

One sector that has been through its fair share of disruption and changes over the past ten years – from the ongoing growth of ecommerce to the emergence of social media as a key aspect of the shopping experience — is retail.

There is every reason to expect the industry will undergo further changes in the coming year, and businesses must be ready to keep up with developments and meet evolving customer expectations to stay relevant.

Here are some of the key trends that could prove particularly influential in 2020:

More interest in sustainability

Recent consumer trends have signalled a growing interest and expectation for brands to acknowledge the importance of sustainability and make relevant changes in how they do business.

The New York University Stern Center for Sustainable Business has completed an extensive study into buying habits in the US. It found that 50 per cent of growth in purchases of consumer packaged goods between 2013 and 2018 came from products marketed on their sustainability.

Retail experts have predicted environmental responsibility could become a key differentiator for businesses in the industry in 2020, with brands having to respond to the growing public focus on the environment.

Fashion is one sector where there has been a noticeable shift towards sustainability, with Gucci recently hosting a carbon-neutral fashion show and H&M launching its Conscious Collection.

In 2020, a key priority for brands in all segments of the retail industry will be to maintain the necessary engagement and communication with customers to ensure their messages around sustainability are getting through.

If you’re targeting international audiences, connecting with consumers becomes much easier with tools like international SEO and localisation on your side.

An emphasis on social responsibility

Connected to the issue of environmental sustainability, consumers will be paying more attention to retailers’ overall sense of corporate social responsibility in the coming year and beyond.

Businesses must recognise the need to take positive action that gives something back to society or supports progress and change where it’s needed the most.

Research by Accenture has shown how many consumers are choosing to buy “from companies that take a stand on issues they care about and ditching those that don’t”. Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents to a global survey said they prefer to buy from companies that stand for a shared purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs.

Bill Theofilou, senior managing director of Accenture Strategy, said: “Purpose is more than companies simply responding to issues of the day. It’s about having a genuine and meaningful commitment to important principles that consumers care about – such as health and wellbeing, natural ingredients, environmental sustainability and family connections – which inform every business decision.”

The importance of community

The concept of community – of people feeling that when they buy from a particular brand they’re not just making a purchase, but showing they belong to something – has taken on more significance in recent years and looks set to gain further importance in 2020.

If you’re able to build a genuine sense of community within your audience, you’ll see the benefits in terms of stronger loyalty and repeat business.

Point-of-sale software provider Vend HQ highlighted the example of Pace Athletic, a specialty running gear retailer in Australia which differentiated itself from major chains and ecommerce sites by starting a running club.

Two years later, the business had expanded from one to five stores thanks to the support of hundreds of running club members. The club itself now takes place in three locations in Australia.

Further growth in social shopping

Social media and retail have become increasingly intertwined in recent years – a trend that’s showing no signs of slowing down as the industry heads into the 2020s.

According to Brandon Rael, director of professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, the blurring of the boundaries between “the social, digital and commerce worlds will continue to dominate the conversation well into 2020.”

Justus Wilde, CEO of New Zealand-based ecommerce site TheMarket, said it’s “no surprise” that social shopping is taking off, given the “exceptionally smooth” browsing and buying experience people can get through platforms like Pinterest and Instagram.

“It’s still very much in its infancy, but with adoption growing and social platforms continuing to push this technology, this is definitely one retailers should watch out for,” he added.

What’s absolutely clear is that you can’t afford to go into 2020 without an up-to-date, relevant marketing strategy, particularly in areas like social media.

Locaria offers a range of services and solutions that can help you take full advantage of new opportunities in the global retail industry in 2020. To find out more, request a quote online or call us on +44 (0)20 3948 6800.

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