5 trends that have rocked the retail industry this year so far
The first half of 2017 proved turbulent for Europe’s retail industry. Yet while fluctuating currencies and consumer confidence levels created a mixed picture across the continent, retailers proved their ability to quickly adapt to changing shopper demands.
Here are five of the key industry trends that have changed the retail landscape so far this year:
Mobile payments are go
The role of cash in shopper transactions is declining, with mobile devices becoming the new wallet.
According to Visa research, mobile payment will become the standard by 2020, as shoppers grow increasingly comfortable with mobile technology – entrusting their phones with functions including collating loyalty vouchers, verifying ID details and storing e-receipts.
The likes of Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay are already seeing growth across Europe, and this is likely to intensify when new EU legislation comes into force in January, which will revolutionise shoppers’ ability to carry out transactions between different payment service providers.
The shopping centre as a social hub
Regardless of regional differences, Europe’s shopping malls are becoming broader, more experiential retail destinations that incorporate healthcare services, offices, entertainment, and even homes.
According to Drapers, new shopping centres in this vein are opening apace across Europe. In May, following an expansion, the Oriocenter mall in Bergamo, Italy, became the continent’s largest shopping mall, offering 280 stores and 50 restaurants, as well as a 14-screen multiplex cinema.
Meanwhile, Finland’s Redi shopping centre development, set to open in 2018, will bring a climbing wall, flying centre and ride simulator to Helsinki’s retail/hospitality offer.
Retail’s getting more personal
2017 is proving to be a milestone year for personalisation. Europe’s shoppers are welcoming a level of service that’s more closely aligned to their needs, and retailers are benefiting from the data that shoppers share by targeting their marketing efforts towards individuals.
Co-Op Denmark has developed ‘Bip & Betal’ (‘beep and pay’), an app which guides the entire retail journey from check-in to checkout, and has the potential to offer personalised grocery-specific functions such as ‘allergy alarms’ on food orders.
Personalisation can be delivered at a product level, too. In a pop-up store at Berlin’s Bikini Mall, Adidas offered shoppers the chance to design their own Merino sweaters, which were then knitted on location.
Small is beautiful
In many cases, stores are becoming places in which to engage the shopper, rather than sell to them. Facing rising rent and rates, retailers across Europe are looking for ways to make the best use of their real estate, leading to a host of smaller-format stores which offer a refined selection of products.
These showroom formats give customers the ability to explore a retailer’s wider portfolio through digital touchpoints in-store.
In London, DIY giant B&Q opened its first small-format outlet, which is around one 30th of the size of its superstores. Across Europe, meanwhile, big out-of-town and ecommerce brands are also exploring smaller-format outlets, seeing them as an opportunity to build their presence on the high street, or benefit from the credibility offered by a physical format.
Internet of Things (IOT) principles have become more widespread in 2017, resulting in an increasing number of ‘connected’ stores. As digital consumers express the desire for shopping journeys which incorporate their online experiences, retailers across Europe are exploring ways to deliver a more seamless omnichannel offer through technology.
Devices such as smart shelves and mirrors are joining existing tablet and self-service devices to more intelligently track and promote inventory.
For example, Nordic menswear brand, Oscar Jacobson, invested in IOT technology this year to reduce administrative tasks. This technology has also streamlined the retailer’s reporting and checkout processes, freeing up store staff to focus on the customer. The retailer plans to roll out click-and-collect and introduce a service which will allow shoppers to specify bespoke fabrics and sizes in the near future.