The retail industry is changing quickly, thanks to ever-growing Internet and mobile technology. To stay current, both online and offline businesses are embracing new retail ideas to transform the shopping experience and build customer loyalty.
Creative Store Experiences
Online sales are an ever-growing part of retail. According to the U.S. Bureau of Commerce, e-commerce sales in 2016 were 15.1 percent higher than they were in 2015. To compete, brick and mortar businesses are investing in the in-store experience. The first Amazon Go store, which opened in late 2016, uses a checkout-free design to increase speed. Apple is partnering with various retailers to create store-within-a-store experiences. These fresh retail ideas highlight the instant gratification and tactile nature of in-person shopping that online retailers can't provide.
To refresh the shopping experience, businesses are creating personalized services. Online retailers have long done this by displaying related items on individual product pages, as seen on Amazon's "Customers who bought this item also bought" and "Frequently bought together" listings. Services such as Trunk Club and Stitch Fix send clothing based on a personal style profile. High-end stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue are also getting in on the game with new retail ideas. The Saks Downtown location in New York City offers a Power Lunch, which includes a catered meal and a beauty treatment. The Saks Fifth Avenue x You feature allows customers to design a custom suit with the help of a digital interface and a store employee.
Since the 2016 presidential election, retailers have been jumping on the political bandwagon to capitalize on the sharp divide of public sentiment. Some brands, recognizing that consumers vote with their dollars, have taken steps to distance themselves from the Trump administration. Macy's was first in line, dropping the Trump men's clothing line in 2015 after the then presidential candidate caused a stir with negative comments about Mexicans. Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump's clothing line in early 2017, and other brands, including Shoes.com and Wayfair, have also stopped selling items from Trump family businesses. These politically motivated retail ideas go both ways — executives from NASCAR and Hobby Lobby publicly endorsed Trump.
Brick and mortar stores are increasingly embracing technology-based retail ideas to streamline shopping. The Die Hard Auto Center Driven by Sears leverages technology to help customers inspect used cars and choose the best tire. Neiman Marcus, in partnership with ChargeItSpot, installed secure charging stations that power up mobile phone batteries while customers shop. Walmart allows customers to check in via its mobile phone app, so associates can prepare online orders in advance to eliminate waiting.
Both high-end and discount retailers are finding ways to integrate new retail ideas to improve the customer experience. With a combination of technology and in-person innovations, stores and online retailers hope to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market.
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