Top Consumer-Based Trends in Retail

Matt Shelly
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For professionals who work in the retail industry, consumer-based retail trends have the power to change the nature of that work, both in stores and online. By staying on top of the latest shopping trends, your business can adjust its practices to accommodate the new ways customers are gathering information and making purchasing decisions.

For retail professionals, one of the most important retail trends is the growth of online user-generated content. This content takes a number of forms, including product reviews on companies' websites, reviews on external sites such as Yelp, and comments on personal social media accounts. For many shoppers, searching for the opinions of other consumers is now a standard part of the purchasing process.

In response to the increase in user-generated content, many retailers are making it easier for customers to read reviews without leaving their online shopping environments. Companies such as Kate Spade New York and Skechers have a review function built in to each product page so that shoppers can see what other customers think of each item. The review creation page is only accessible to people who have actually purchased the item, which lends a sense of credibility to the process.

The growth in user-generated content has led to another of the top recent retail trends: omni-channel retail. An omni-channel strategy takes multi-channel marketing to the next level. Instead of simply creating a presence with separate e-commerce sites, brick-and-mortar buildings, social media presences, and mobile apps, businesses are connecting all of the channels to create a seamless shopping experience. According to Wired magazine's Innovation Insights column, the creation of an integrated online and offline shopping experience is set to be one of the fastest-growing retail trends.

A business that has implemented an omni-channel presence might create an app that allows consumers to scan a product bar code and gain immediate access to online reviews. The same app could then give the shopper the option to add the product to an online shopping cart for a later purchase, provide coupons or discount codes for an in-store purchase, or suggest similar products. After the purchase, the customer might be given the opportunity to post about it on a social media site or write a review. By integrating all aspects of the shopping journey, omni-channel marketing creates a powerful customer experience.

When it comes to consumer-driven retail trends, the Internet is an important driver. From mobile shopping apps to review websites, it is increasingly common for shoppers to incorporate some form of online browsing into their shopping experiences. Whether your business offers products online, offline, or both, retail trends can provide important clues towards the shape of the changing retail landscape. By monitoring trends and making cost-effective changes to marketing and sales, you can help your business stay competitive even in a tough market.

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