Originally published in Forbes Jan 18, 2018

Retailer Marketing is on the verge of big change. What opportunities and challenges does the industry needs to embrace

From low-inventory propositions to weather data and hands-free shopping to smarter in-store fulfilment, there are a plethora of solutions, technologies and platforms that retailers can utilise to win in 2018. Whilst stores will always be key to retailer strategy, the format, feel and function of those stores will be evolving this year to meet the growing demands of the ever-changing customers.

Working with leading retailers like Sephora, Dyson and Walmart among others, the solution and technology providers that are leading the charge in helping retailers succeed in an increasingly competitive market offer up these predictions for what the retail industry can expect to see for brick and mortar in 2018:

1. In-Store Activations “Retail will start to utilise influencers even more in-store in 2018.” Thomas Walters, Co-Founder & Head of Client Services, Billion Dollar Boy.

2. Customer Experience “As Amazon continues to eat up more real estate in our lives, from our homes to the local Whole Foods and beyond, companies are going to become much more aggressive and interesting about how they differentiate themselves, leading to even more disruption but also more delight in customer experience.” – Tomer Tagrin, Cofounder and CEO, Yotpo.

3. Multi-Channel at Scale “In retail, the focus will be on connecting the online and offline – attribution, personalisation and targeting as customers cross between the two has always thrown up issues for retail brands. 2018 is the year that they will start to connect the two at scale, and with precision.” – Rune Bromer, CEO, Tamoco.

4. Fluid Shopping “The lines between shopping channels (brick-and-mortar, online, mobile, virtual) will continue to blur together even more as consumers embrace more fluid ways of shopping in 2018, such as ordering groceries to their doorstep or to lockers at the front of the store for easy pickup, flipping through catalogues using VR headsets and streamlining their shopping process through voice-recognition devices and connected households to save time and stay organised.” Mark Hardy, CEO of InContext Solutions.

5. In-Store Personalisation “Companies that have the capabilities to understand each consumer intimately — their past purchases, when they shop — will be able to create more personalised shopping experiences. Equipping sales associates with the power to see both in-store and e-commerce data, will help revolutionise retail.” Sam Kliger, CEO and Founder, KWI.

6. Personalised Experiences “In 2018, customers will increasingly expect to be known, understood, and respected by the brands they love, which means they will punish retailers for disconnected or jarring experiences where their mobile app or email preferences does not directly translate to in-store interactions.” – Sam Weber, Chief Revenue Officer, Amplero.

7. RFID, Beacons and Self-Checkout “The world of retail marketing is ever-changing and rapidly evolving. Technology is removing the barriers that has limited retailers from connecting and building loyal, personal relationships across different platforms and channels. We’re going to continue seeing disruption and transformation across retail. To further engage and create a better experience for both customers and employees, retailers will be evaluating and implementing several other technologies. This includes RFID, beacons, biometric security, self-checkout, digital signage, same-day delivery, flexible pick-up and return, loyalty programs to name a few. Alibaba has already taken a step towards this by demonstrating face recognition at a cashier-less concept cafe.”- Jeff Scott, CEO, Infinite Peripherals.

8. Video Commerce “We believe 2018 will be a pivotal year for retail and ecommerce businesses, as they adopt live video shopping technology to solve many of the immediate challenges that they face. Whether its omni-channel retailers looking to maximise the profitability of their stores and staff or ecommerce businesses moving into the high street, live video commerce will enable them to utilise their existing assets to reach and convert a wider audience.” – Aman Khurana, Co-founder, GoInStore.

9. In-Store Marketing “Rewards-based marketing will change the model for in-store retail marketing through “shelf-talkers” encouraging consumers to post about a product and receive rewards or discounts that can be used immediately in-store.” Herman DeBoard, CMO, Grabbr.

10. Multiple Seasons “The seasonal approach is out – faster supply chains have allowed retailers to rethink seasonality as 52 seasons instead two or four. This means you can deliver new batches of products to stores every week, giving consumers a reason to come back.” – Bob D’Loren, Chairman and CEO of Xcel Brands.

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