20-Plus Things to Watch in Retail, Part 2
6. Self-service. Self-checkout is becoming more common, and the advent of “smart carts” and mobile “scan and go” apps will put a new spin on the idea, the report said. Meanwhile, in-store tablets and touch screens are serving as digital sales associates. While the benefits of face-to-face interactions are sacrificed, self-service is often more efficient. Furthermore, today’s consumers frequently prefer to take the reins.
7. Serving the image-conscious man. Men are more aware of trends than ever and becoming open to less conventional fashion choices, while men’s grooming products are one of the cosmetics industry’s fastest-growing segments, the report found. Online retailers in particular will benefit from this trend, since many men prefer quick online forays to brick-and-mortar expeditions. Online retailers like Bonobos, Frank & Oak and JackThreads offer on-trend menswear, expanding the horizons of customers, while subscription services like Trunk Club, Five Four and Bombfell employ stylists to compile personalized selections.
8. Shopping hotels. In Middle Eastern countries such as the U.A.E., Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain, megamalls with hotels adjacent are fueling a tourism recovery after the Arab Spring of 2011 took a toll, the report said. A Sheraton opened in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates in 2013, and Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is home to seven hotels and a megamall.
9. Speedier delivery. The downside of online ordering has always been the inevitable delayed gratification. That delay is getting increasingly brief, however, putting even more pressure on brick-and-mortar retailers. Amazon and eBay are both working to expand their same-day delivery options (eBay Now enables shoppers in a few markets to receive products from local merchants within hours thanks to a network of couriers), while Google is testing a same-day Shopping Express service with retail partners. Several startups are pushing into the space too, connecting online shoppers with nearby couriers. U.K.-based Shutl recently launched in the U.S., and Postmates offers a similar service.