20-Plus Things to Watch in Retail, Part 2
10. Stores as living websites. The idea of turning stores into “living, breathing websites" (i.e., places where consumers have access to a huge inventory from a relatively small space) is a trend to watch, the report said. Bonobos’ Guideshops, for example, lacks both cash registers and inventory. The online men’s clothing seller is using its six locations as physical portals into its e-commerce site. Consumers try on samples and check out colors and patterns, then order from in-store computers. Meanwhile, Staples recently opened two omnichannel stores that are significantly smaller than the brand's typical stores. The omnichannel stores feature several kiosks where customers can order items for next business-day delivery free of charge.
11. Tablet shopping. As more consumers adopt tablets and more retailers embrace the channel's opportunities, look for tablet commerce to take off, the report forecasted. eMarketer estimates that by 2017 nearly three-quarters of mobile retail sales in the U.S. will come from tablets. Watch for more creative tablet-based offerings from online retailers as shopaholics develop a new guilty pleasure.
12. Variable pricing. Airlines and hotels have long charged different prices for the same seat or room, a practice that’s expanding into more categories with a big boost from technology, the report found. Prices are shifting based on time of day, competitors’ pricing, fluctuating demand and individual consumer profiles. Some Amazon vendors rely on software that constantly adjusts their prices, for example. And grocers are starting to use loyalty card data to personalize offers. What's more, demand-based pricing is being tested everywhere from parking spaces to restaurants. With the middle market still squeezed, brands will use variable pricing to cater to both spenders and savers.