2019 Retail Forecast: The Expansion of Brick-and-Mortar and Flexible Checkout Options
2018 was a whirlwind year for retailers across the globe. We saw e-commerce retail disruptors like Amazon.com continue to make headway into physical retail, while several other retailers such as Toys"R"Us shuttered their doors after decades of providing unique products to shoppers. What’s more, in the latter part of 2018, we continued to see retailers across the board take a few steps further into unifying their digital transformation efforts both within the physical store and online by offering flexible and convenient checkout options. Now that it’s 2019, we can expect even more transformation to happen in the retail industry as stores strive to live up to shoppers’ changing expectations. Here are the top three retail trends I forecast we will predominantly see in 2019:
Amazon Will Augment its Physical Footprint
With Amazon recently announcing the locations for its second U.S. headquarters, I expect to see Amazon accelerate its presence into physical retail with both convenience stores and grocery stores. In the U.S., we will see the start of the retailer's planned rollout of 3,000 Amazon Go stores by 2021 in a bid to take advantage of the fast-growing convenience store market. We can also expect to see Amazon’s strategic acquisition of larger physical sites to expand Whole Foods and achieve scale in the grocery sector, building on the loyalty success of Amazon Prime through in-store discount benefits.
New Technology Will Catalyze Advanced Checkout Options
With retailers already using "scan and go" technology this past holiday sales season, including Macy’s, Target and Walmart, seamless and innovative checkout procedures will surely become the new norm in 2019. Whether it be cashier-less checkout, "Scan-Bag-Go," self-checkout, mobile checkout kiosks, or mobile app payment, there will be a higher demand and adoption rate of alternative checkout options as retailers adapt their point-of-sale technology to meet customers’ changing demands and the new buying habits of shoppers in-store. With this implementation, store associates will also become more productive and empowered, building brand loyalty through higher levels of customer engagement. Store associates will even have the potential to upsell on popular items.
Brick-and-Mortar Stores Will Use Space More Effectively
In 2019, retailers with physical stores will become more creative with their use of space. For example, stores will be used as fulfillment centers for click-and-collect and home delivery; for cross-sell and upsell through the use of added-value partnerships (e.g., Sainsbury’s in The UK with Argos and Oasis concessions in-store); and for more experiential shopping as retailers strive to make their stores more entertaining and engaging in order to drive the right experiences in-store (e.g., Nike launching a Live concept store in the U.S.). These three key areas support a true end-to-end customer buying experience with better integration of the physical store and online sales, along with a drive towards overall operational efficiency. This trend will also involve more e-commerce sites opening physical stores, further boosting physical retail outlet growth.
As 2019 gets underway, we will see innovative synergy between physical and digital. Initiatives such as creative use of brick-and-mortar spaces, experimentation with faster checkout solutions, and the overall expansion of in-store technology will become retail staples this year, aimed at meeting the demands of shoppers’ changing expectations.
Nick East is the CEO and co-founder of Zynstra, intelligent infrastructure for retail.
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Nick East is the co-founder and CEO of Zynstra, an intelligent infrastructure that is transforming edge computing for retailers.