2018 proved itself a monumental year for retail: Best Buy announced its first new store in seven years, Walmart acquired eCommerce leader Flipkart, Asos unveiled voice-powered shopping available through Google Assistant and Amazon continued to expand its Go stores concept.
In 2019, we can expect to see even more advancements coming out of retail as industry leaders continue to embrace new technology and hone in on consumer expectations. But what exactly does the year ahead hold? To better understand what top retailers have planned for 2019, we turned to the industry leaders themselves, and here’s what we heard.
AR/VR Will Become Part of Everyday Retail Experiences
Scott Perry, Vice President, Executive Director of Digital and Omni-Channel Experience at Bob’s Discount Furniture
In 2019, technology will help retailers make a splash in a big way. Specifically, I think:
- 2019 will be the year AR/VR goes mainstream. We already have the groundwork in place, as Apple has doubled down with the latest release of ARkit2 and more retailers are using AR. For example, at Bob’s Discount Furniture we let you see furniture in your room and leading jewelry retailers now let you see a ring on your finger.
- Appless AR experiences will become more prevalent as well. Hopefully by the end of the year there will be a cross-platform agreement to use UDZ and AR Quicklook for both iOS and Android.
Email Will Get Smarter Through Expanded Personalization Efforts and More Intelligent Timing
Lesley Oberdorf, Director, Global CRM & Direct Marketing at Coach
Going into 2019, there are three areas that are most top of mind for the Coach marketing team:
- In the coming year, circulation/frequency optimization for marketing communications will become top of mind for retailers as their databases continue to grow, but email impressions remain stagnant. As inboxes become ever-more crowded and consumers engage on more and more platforms, top marketers will recognize that hitting customers at the right time with the right frequency is equally as important as hitting them with the right message. By focusing more on frequency (and doing so in a more targeted way), retailers should be better equipped to cut through the message clutter.
- As the ecosystem of customer messaging evolves, email must evolve too. It needs to be more real-time and live more seamlessly with other platforms to create a greater 360-degree voice as brands speak to their customers. As a result, I expect to see a widespread embrace of real-time content and advanced integrations, such as social platforms or location-based technology, as part of marketing emails in the coming year.
- Finally, we’ll see the continued evolution of personalization in the email channel. To date, most retailers’ email personalization efforts have focused on trigger and lifecycle initiatives. In 2019, I think we’ll see those efforts extended to broadcast messages, whether it be through enhanced segmentation tactics or chasing 1:1 personalization.
The Lines Between Online and In-Store Will Get Blurrier, Thanks to Better In-Store Technology, Online Service and Visualization
Pete Franco, Vice President of eCommerce at Living Spaces
I see several big trends taking shape now that will impact the year ahead for retail:
- 2019 will bring a continued integration of online and in-store experiences. I think we will start seeing more significant investments in the digital experience in-store, which should also help improve the online experience.
- In the coming year, chatbots are going to get more mainstream. Along the way, customers will start using them more and will begin to expect better experiences from them.
- Finally, with the introduction of AR directly through the browser in iOS 12, I think we will start seeing AR go mainstream as well. As AR slowly becomes a customer expectation, those retailers that don’t invest in it will get left behind.
Preparing for 2019 and Beyond
What other trends can we expect to see shape retail in 2019 and beyond? Click here to watch my preview of the major advancements that will shape retail marketing over the next five years.