20-Plus Things to Watch in Retail, Part 1
I was most interested in the report’s "20-Plus Things to Watch in Retail" section, which offers a relatively quick rundown of developments in retail, from innovative business models to shifting consumer behaviors to the latest technology launches. In today’s blog post (part one of a two-part series), I’ll recap 10 of these 20-plus things, such as 3-D printing, alternative brand currencies, and click-and-collect shopping. Check out my blog tomorrow for part two, where I'll discuss the remaining 12 things to watch, including the mobile-powered consumer, speedier delivery and variable pricing.
1. 3-D printing reaches retail. Some say additive manufacturing, widely known as 3-D printing, will revolutionize retail as consumers simply produce goods at home. While this scenario is still theoretical, the report said, Tesco is one retailer really investigating how 3-D printing may enable consumers to design items and have them created in-store or get replacement parts printed. eBay's new Exact app also allows users to custom design and then ship 3-D printed accessories.
2. Alternative brand currencies. The report found that more brands are promoting their goods by giving them away in exchange for various consumer actions (and potential word-of-mouth). For example, chocolatier Anthon Berg created a one-day pop-up shop, The Generous Store, which accepted generosity — e.g., a promise to do something nice for a loved one — instead of money for merchandise.
3. Catering to gender fluidity. Mainstream retailers are broadening their styles and color palettes for men, crossing over into themes and accessories traditionally targeted only to women (e.g., florals and bracelets), the report said. In the kids category, two Swedish toy retailers made headlines last year for the gender-neutral images in their catalogs, including a boy playing with a baby doll and a girl shooting a Nerf gun. And when Harrods debuted its huge Toy Kingdom, the iconic London retailer organized toys by theme rather than gender.