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New Retail Trends in Time for the Holidays

Bryan Wargo - Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The NRF recently released a post with their top 10 trends for the holiday shopping season. With most retailers expecting a disproportionate amount of annual sales in the Nov - Jan timeframe, these trends exemplify the strategies of most major retail chains.  Many of these trends focus on what is happening within the macro-economic sphere (GDP is up, jobless rate is slightly down) and how that impacts shopper sentiment.  What I found to be really exciting were the areas where new technologies (versus market conditions) are starting to impact and change consumer behavior and how these are making their way into retail trends.

1st nugget of gold:

Today’s consumer has high expectations – they already assume retailers will be offering low prices or strong promotions, and they want to know what they’re going to get on top of that. This “price plus” shopping mentality is all part of the value equation, which incorporates price with other elements like quality, convenience and service.

Shoppers expect more.  Even as times get tough and people look for the best deal, service and overall value of the shopping experience rises to the top.  Online retailers have such a cost advantage over brick-and-mortar stores yet the vast majority of commerce still happens in the real world.  This lead is shrinking at a double digit rate for the physical store, but the cause is much more than just cost.  The "experience" matters and retailers must find new and innovative ways to delight their customer.

2nd nugget of gold:

Half of Americans with smartphones will use their devices for holiday shopping this year, according to our survey – primarily to research products or compare prices but also to find retailers’ information like store hours and locations. Consumers will also use phones while shopping in stores to read reviews or redeem coupons – while a smaller number (16%) will actually use their phone to make purchases. So when you think of smartphones, think mobile. These devices are carried everywhere.

Mobile is everywhere and the ability to bring the internet into the store has forever changed the shopping landscape.  Google has created an entire initiative to help business improve their mobile web sites.  As the look and feel of content on the mobile web improves, usage will only increase.  Retailers are in the infancy of embracing the mobile web and probably won't put major initiatives in place to impact holiday 2011, but it is coming and is going to be coming fast.

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