I don’t know about you, but 2016 was a whirlwind of a year for our two brands, Total Retail and the Women in Retail Leadership Circle. This year, we launched several new products, produced more events than we ever have before and planned for many new research initiatives that will be coming up in the year ahead. It’s actually hard to believe that 2016 is coming to an end and that 2017 is right around the corner. Since this is the final print issue of 2016, it’s time for my annual roundup of retail predictions for the year ahead. As in years past, I’m focusing on a few interesting trends I’ve seen come to light this year that I believe will become even more widespread next year.
1. Quicker and faster. In 2016, it became increasingly clear that consumers value the ability to buy merchandise quickly and easily (both online and offline), and are getting less patient when it comes to waiting for orders to be delivered, new goods to show up in stores or great deals to hit their inboxes. As such, while one-day delivery became popular this year, in 2017 I believe it will become the norm, as will the “buy now, see now” phenomenon that we saw take off at New York Fashion Week earlier this fall.
Also in this category are quick and easy payment solutions. Mobile payment solutions, already big in 2016, will become mainstream in 2017. In general, successful retailers in 2017 will be those that help their customers get to and buy the merchandise they want as quickly and easily as they can, as well as help them save time and simplify their day-to-day shopping routines.
2. Taking it personally. This may be the third year in a row I’ve predicted that retailers will focus on personalization in the year ahead, but if 2016 is any indication, 2017 will be the year that real personalization takes hold. Retailers that will do well in 2017 will be those that offer consumers highly tailored products and experiences. In addition, winning brands will integrate their sales channels so they can recognize shoppers across all touchpoints, enabling personalized services, products and promotions, both online and offline.
3. Millennials take over. As we all must know by now, millennials are the largest consumer group. Therefore, forward-thinking retailers have already begun listening closely to what millennials want. In 2017, we’ll see the focus-on-millennial trend continue. So, what do millennials want? How should retailers cater to them in the year ahead? It’s pretty simple: millennials are attracted to brands that stand for the right values — namely, authenticity, transparency and social responsibility. Retailers that focus on those areas in 2017 should win over the much-coveted millennial segment.