2017 is coming to a close, and for many retailers that is a good thing. The past 12 months will go down in the record books as the year of the store closing — with over 8,500 retail locations closing up shop. As consumers continue to embrace digital shopping, retailers are undergoing an adjustment period and are redefining the path to purchase and investing in cutting-edge technologies to reinvigorate the customer experience.
With constant change as the backdrop, RIS News’ asked leading retailers, analysts and solution providers to comment on the 12 months ahead. We asked them one simple question: “What are the key themes, trends and technology that will define retail in 2018?” While the answers were as varied as the participants, a common message rings out in each response — 2018 will be all about the consumer.
Whether in-store or online the retailers that are going the weather the volatile retail landscape and succeed in these highly competitive times must put the customer first. They need to find new and exciting ways to differentiate their brands from the competition and continue to invest in their digital capabilities to streamline and invigorate the shopping experience.
Our panel of experts believes that redefining omnichannel strategies with a focus on unified commerce will remain a top priority for 2018 and beyond. A key aspect of that focus will be on reinvigorating the store with a heavy investment in IoT, RFID, fulfillment and mobility. In addition, cutting-edge solutions like artificial intelligence and voice-assisted shopping will continue to cement themselves into the retail tech stack and will forever change how consumers shop and engage with retailers.
What will the next 12 months bring for retail? No one knows for certain. But what is definite is the customer will remain front and center.