Retail Trends So Far in 2016

John Krautzel
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One retail trend after another emerged in 2016, and national chains saw some of their best gains in more than a year in June. Check out some of the hottest retail trends businesses adopted to compete for consumer dollars.

In-Store Technology

In-store technology continues to make gains beyond wireless hubs that recognize your smartphone when you walk in the door. Virtual design software from Lowe's and John Lewis lets customers see what a living room, dining room or kitchen looks like before deciding to make a purchase. Shoppers simply pick out the items they want to see and determine how it fits into their home.

Smart dressing rooms are another retail trend creating personalized experiences while customers try on different fashions. Software recommends colors, outfits, accessories and sizes to match whatever the person brings into the dressing room. Smart dressing rooms can even order drinks, ask for assistance and change the lighting thanks to digital mirrors.

Bargain Items

High-end stores, including Nordstrom, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Neiman Marcus, took a hit in 2015 and 2016. Perhaps this retail trend means some shoppers are open to purchasing bargain fashions and have turned away from spending excessive amounts of money on clothing from high-end stores. Fashion houses and retailers must adapt to this ideal before even more stores take a hit.

Appliance and furniture stores must also compete for shoppers who find the same or similar items for less money. Due to online stores and customer reviews, retailers must find new ways to attract consumers before they find a better deal elsewhere. Luckily, national chains have access to the same sales flyers and coupons as shoppers, so retailers can figure out how to manage their own revenue streams by offering competitive prices.


Chatbots represent a retail trend that aims to replace human-based customer service. Chatbots give consumers the experience of speaking to a real person, when in reality, it's a computer program that responds to the inquiry. This software creates a fast solution for consumers looking for a quick suggestion, a solution to a problem or an answer to a question.

Large chains, such as Sephora, Pizza Hut and Whole Foods Market, all employ chatbots as a way to alleviate customer service staffing issues. Automated customer service comes into play when shoppers look for deals online during off-peak hours and overnight. This software helps retailers maintain customer engagement at all times during a 24/7 shopping cycle.

These three retail trends that provides a personalized shopping experience to customers who want to try on different outfits in a store, ask a question about a product or inquire about discounted items. National chains should pay attention to prevent losing market share to smaller stores.

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