Every year, the world seems to spin a little faster; it’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end of 2015! In retail, the pace of innovation continually moves through the gears, and we’re likely to see even greater evolution into 2016.

But what will retail look like next year, and how can retailers prepare for inevitable shifts in the way consumers interact with and buy from them? We’ve put together some key trends for the sector in 2016, to help organizations prepare for the road ahead:

  1. Change will come from within
    Increasingly, retailers are realizing that invigorating the customer experience means redesigning the business infrastructure around their customers. As a result, next year we’re going to see more companies ripping up the rule book when it comes to operational models.UK department store, House of Fraser, was one of the first retail organizations to make this change earlier this year, bringing its CRM, product and multichannel functions together at the center of the business.Retailers will also be assessing whether their current processes and back-end retail technology is creating true customer centricity. Wowing shoppers in 2016 will become much more about delivering on promise than using digital ‘bells and whistles’ to create futuristic experiences.
  2. Social media will help to bridge the online/in-store gap
    This year, we saw several social media platforms experiment with ‘buy buttons’ and the idea of shoppable social networks is going to have consequences for both the online and in-store experience.In 2016, retailers are likely to nurture the relationship between content and commerce; a recent Nielsen study pointed to the example of celebrity chef Curtis Stone, who creates recipe and cookery technique videos that link to a shopping list on a retailer’s website.Equally, social media is going to become more intrinsically woven into the bricks-and-mortar environment, with a greater number of retailers encouraging consumers to interact via their favorite social network as they shop.
  3. The loyalty battle will go mobile
    If any trend has defined the last 12-18 months in retail, it has been the growth of mobile commerce. Next year, this battleground will evolve to encompass loyalty more closely, with retailers turning to mobile loyalty schemesin order to reward customers based on their shopping habits in all channels.We’ll also see a continuing shift away from paper vouchers and plastic credit card style loyalty cards, toward digital passbooks that integrate with shoppers’ mobile devices, to personalize incentivisation and reward customers based on their true lifetime value.
  4. Data will drive closer consumer relationships
    Big data isn’t a new theme in retail, but its relationship with the way critical business decisions are made will become much stronger over the year ahead.As our CEO, Kamal Karmakar discussed in a recent blog post – magic numbers: unlocking the value of business intelligence – retailers need to grasp key metrics in a way that provides tangible insights to their core staff.To this effect, we’ve seen many companies embracing BI solutions with an online dashboard, which can deliver data in real-time, to the correct people, giving them only the metrics they need to do their job better.

With such a vast volume of statistics out there in the retail sphere, more and more retailers are going to start streamlining information in this manner, rather than simply overwhelming key personnel with all the information available.

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