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As the year closes out and retailers are hoping that the critical holiday season is a success, we find ourselves looking at what the big retail trends for 2017 will be.

It truly has never been a more exciting time to be in retail. It’s a time where companies are rethinking, reinventing and innovating like never before.

Just a few weeks ago Amazon (yet again) broke all the rules and opened its latest concept, Amazon Go. It’s a brick and mortar store where you just walk in, grab what you want and then walk right out. No cashier, no lineups, no time wasted.

Amazon has repeatedly shown that they have the pulse of consumers, and by leading the way on retail trends they continue to build a massive customer base.

Here are a few of the key trends we are following as we start 2017:

The Rise of Retailtainment

Retailtainment is the fusion of retail and entertainment. The idea is that retailers can provide their customers with an interesting and unique experience. The assumption is that people are more likely to be drawn into a retailer who is incorporating multiple add-ons to the typical customer experience.

A great example of this is the recent trend of movie theatres now offering a “night out” experience. Long gone are the small seats and flat soda from the candy counter. Now it’s large, luxurious seats, cocktails, and gourmet meals. Viewers can remain seated throughout the film and have whatever they desire delivered to their seat.

As I discussed in a previous blog post, Retailtainment is especially prevalent when it come to targeting Millennials, who are known for wanting more than just a “normal” shopping experience.  

Brick & Mortar Store Experiences

Even with the ever increasing realm of online shopping, brick and mortar store still have their place and need to create memorable in-store experiences. But how?

In early December, Adidas opened a flagship store in New York City. The idea behind the store and it’s design was to create what they are calling a “stadium retail concept” where they recreate a high school sports stadium. Not only do shoppers walk through the store which mimics the different aspects of a stadium, but the store includes a snack bar, personal fitness consultation and a spot to customize your purchases.

Adidas shows that brick and mortar stores can be just as exciting as online retailers and that experiences can be developed to enhance customers’ enjoyment while in they shop. They’ve created an environment that not only encourages customers to shop, but to also slow down and hang out for as long as they like.

Non-Traditional Models Are Here to Stay

Back in November I explored the world of non-traditional retail models and these models will continue to become more and more popular in the coming year.

Non-traditional models are everywhere. Starting with the sharing economy. With things like AirBnB continuing to become more successful and mainstream, it’s the best interest of retailers to explore how they can incorporate the sharing economy into their business plans.

Other non-traditional models to watch are pop up shops and mixed used developments. Pop up shops offer a way for a retailer to try out new concepts in a controlled environment, while mixed used developments bring together retail, entertainment and housing in one place. These both offer opportunities to take your business to locations that may not have been previously considered.

Retail with Purpose

When you look at research on the current and upcoming generations of shoppers, one thing becomes very clear – Sustainability and social consciousness have an incredible amount of influence over their buying decisions. Gen Y and Gen Z in particular want to feel like they aren’t only getting something for their money, but that they’re also contributing to the greater good of the world.

Warby Parker is a company that saw an opportunity to not only fill a gap in the marketplace (affordable glasses) and then took it a step further by partnering up with several not-for-profits to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, another pair would be donated to someone in need.

Warby Parker embodies what next gen shoppers are looking for and provides shoppers with not only an affordable product, but a sense of global community.

Elearning for Retail Training

While traditional training in retail still has a place, the evolution of e-learning continues. Elearning offers the opportunity for retailers to ensure consistent, ongoing staff training that can easily be tracked for completion and compliance. Also, this type of training improves product knowledge for employees and enables them to better assist customers.

The next generation of workers are the most tech savvy ever. They have a high level of comfort with mobile training and access to the devices needed to complete it.

One of the greatest perks of elearning that it is incredibly cost effective. Mobile and e-learning comes in at 10 to 20% of the costs of face-to-face training, and is twice as effective.  The retailer isn’t relying on managers or other staff to try and ensure everyone in the store is appropriately trained.

Food and Dining Experiences Anchor Retail

Food is slowly making the rise to become the new anchor in retail malls. Shoppers don’t necessarily want to just grab a burger and sit for 15 minutes in between hitting the stores.

This trend is taking shape in different ways, be it large retailers adding cafes and bistros in their stores, or boutique food stands popping up in the food courts.

In 2014, Pusateri’s, a fine food retailer, announced they would partnering with Saks Fifth Avenue’s Canadian stores to be the operator of the Saks Food Hall, which offers a selection of both sit-down food options as well as gourmet products.

This trend shows that once again, shoppers are looking for a complete experience, and not just a quick in and out when they go to the mall.

With these trends in mind, it’s time to ask yourself if your business is ready for the year ahead. Looking at the trends, there’s many ways for you to evolve and adapt to the changing retail landscape so you can keep your ideal customers coming back again and again.

LHR Consultants has considerable experience working with retail operations to help them modernize and meet emerging trends. To discuss your specific needs, contact us for a free consultation at: lisa@lisahutcheson.ca.