With online shopping’s growing foothold, it’s no surprise that smart retailers are adapting. Today’s retail developments focus more on customer experiences, with an eye to getting shoppers away from screens and into the retail environment.
While technology, on the surface, may seem like an irritant, retail operators can embrace the advent of personalized data available from users’ smartphones. While data privacy issues make the rounds in recent media reports, research from Forrester’s 2019 B2C Marketing Report counters that marketers will abandon third-party data (information collected by an entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with the consumer) to what it refers to as a “zero party data” approach, where the consumer willingly provides their data in exchange for personalized offers or engagement opportunities.
Sustainability initiatives will continue to be on consumers’ shopping lists. According to Fast Company:
While sustainability has been a buzzword in the world of retail for years, brands will have to take it much more seriously in 2019. Consumers will demand it. We’re already seeing this in action. When news reports tracked how bad plastic straws are for the environment, searches for reusable metal straws went up by 205% on Etsy. Facebook found that over the course of 2018, discussions about bioplastic, carbon dioxide removal, and straws increased. Users also talked a great deal about buying more durable products and sustainable fashion.
Many larger retail operators are downsizing their brick-and-mortar space. This not only allows operators to take a more community-focused approach, but also provides opportunities for a smaller footprint in our growing urban environments. Growth in mixed-use developments, with inclusion of office and multifamily sharing space, should also continue to rise as a result of this. Both larger and smaller retailers are also experimenting with pop-up shops – temporary storefronts with an exclusive feel that are designed to highlight new offerings or brands.
Per CBRE’s 2019 U.S. Real Estate Market Outlook Retail report:
Continued healthy retail sales growth—the result of rising consumer confidence, a strong job market, lower taxes and higher wage growth—will drive strong retail fundamentals in 2019. As mall owners seek to drive traffic flow and reposition shuttered department store space, they will increase their redevelopment and re-tenanting activity. Across categories, retailers will continue to develop their omnichannel strategies and make significant reinvestment in their physical stores. In response to growing consumer demand, 2019 should be a pivotal turning point for omnichannel in the food and beverage category.
The retail apocalypse forecasted over the last couple of years hasn’t happened, and with advent of big online players like Amazon and Casper eyeing brick-and-mortar expansion, adaptability of the marketplace will be key to keeping today’s consumer engaged.