Retail is more competitive than ever. As malls fade away and the suburban strip becomes a thing of the past, product-pushers have had to adapt to the landscape of the web. Web-based retail has brought creative destruction, but it has also brought innovations in marketing, manufacture, and distribution, delivering products to consumers with startling efficiency. Here are five business practices that are shaking up retail in 2018.
Live Life, Augmented
A few years ago, it seemed like augmented reality wasn’t quite living up to its hype. Overlaying computer-generated images over real life? Great science fiction, perhaps, but not great in factual execution. Today, retailers like Wayfair are embracing AR with a gusto that would make Asimov blush. Consumers can now envision their retail choices before they make them, in real life, in real time. Wonder what that couch would look like in your living room? You can find out at the tap of an app.
The web has the ability to bring more things to more people more efficiently than any technology ever invented. Nowhere is this more evident than in recent shifts in wholesale practices. Large retailers bundle products for liquidation that are then sold on secondary websites. A cursory examination of Target liquidation reveals thousands of products listed for a tenth of their MSRP, which allows a savvy buyer to resell those products at a profit at or near wholesale prices.
Get Your Brand to Talk
The smart speaker market has exploded since 2016. Today, it seems like to house is complete without the friendly background chatter of Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. According to voicebot.ai, a website that tracks the smart-speaker market, the United States smart speaker market is expected to total 39.2 million sales in 2018. People looking to sell products on smart speakers can either sell products through the speakers directly (such as selling a product on Amazon, accessible through Alexa) or developing third-party apps for smart speakers to promote their products. Retailers have been quick to take advantage of this new, intuitive user interface, with some experts predicting a retail revolution driven by sales using smart speakers.
With the rise of social media has come the rise of social media celebrities; so-called influencers. And with the rise of influencers has come the rise of retailers looking to capitalize on their cachet. Influencers make content independently, which led to some initial hesitation, but the numbers are in, and influencer marketing can quickly turn a backline product into the year’s must-have item. Social media companies have, in turn, worked hard to keep the influencers happy, and make their tools easy for retailers to sell their wares using their interface. Apps like Instagram have enabled “one-click buying” —a product featured in an influencer’s post can now be purchased with the tap of a thumb. Imitating your idol has never been so frictionless.
Box It Up
It started with wines, expanded to meal plans, moved on to clothing, and grew to include makeup and games. Yes, the humble subscription box has changed the world. Today, nearly any type of product can be delivered in a box to you door, and subscription box services are only expected to grow. Anyone selling anything has their eye on the delivery of curated boxes, which combine two hot consumer trends: curation and convenience. Retailers have realized that, when it comes to hand-selecting products for customer requests, their expertise is as valuable as the product itself. For sellers looking to establish both a presence and consumer familiarity with a line of products, subscription box services are heaven-sent. If consumers will subscribe to nightly movies, and subscribe to weekly meals, why wouldn’t they subscribe to you?