As we start a new year, it’s time to dust off the crystal ball and take a look at some of the big themes and trends that will be big in retail in 2020. From improving financial health to sustainability, it looks like a central retail trend for 2020 will be that of transformation. Join Oliver Banks in this podcast episode to discover what the next year could look like for the retail industry.

Listen to this episode to discover:

  • Why cost saving is going to be a big theme next year.
  • Which important topic is only going to be “all talk, no action” in 2020.
  • How physical stores will continue to change.
  • Plus, what do I think we’ll see from Amazon over the next year.

6 themes or retail trends for 2020

In this podcast, I identified 6 themes or trends for retail in 2020. These were:

  1. Cost saving
  2. Sustainabilty
  3. Vegan movement
  4. Retailers promoting their purpose
  5. In store services
  6. Social media making shopping easier

You could argue that these are all continuations of what’s gone on this year – and you’d be correct! As we move into 2020, we’re not going to see any radical pivots. Ecommerce isn’t dead. Climate change isn’t fixed (just ask Greta). But fortunately, the retail apocalypse is still fake news!

However, there are some subtle shifts in each of these – and some will fly faster whilst others stuggle to make an impact.

Stay in touch with 2020’s retail trends

If you want to continue to stay in touch with the retail trends in 2020 and beyond, there are 2 things that you can do now.

  1. Sign up for my free Retail Transformation Briefings which give you a weekly dose of the insight and innovation from the world of retail transformation. Sign up here.
  2. Book tickets for Retail Week Live. This is the premier event for senior people in retail. It’s happening on 25-26th March 2020. Find out more about Retail Week Live and remember to use a discount code of RTS15 to save yourself 15% on your tickets.

Cost saving – fighting the financial squeeze

Retailers have had to combat reducing prices, reducing footfall, increased competition and, at best, static costs. So, as we enter 2020, it will be an important retail trend that boils back up to the surface.

We’ll see cost savings take several forms:

  • Workload / workforce reduction. Largely driven by simplicity, process efficiency and new technology.
  • Waste reduction. Stopping stock get discarded or wasted.
  • Shrink and theft reduction. Eliminating unknown stock loss, largely driven by technology monitoring and checks.
  • Expenses and other cost reduction. Especially on goods and services that aren’t for resale and aren’t essential for trading.

Sustainability – will we see words starting to shift to action

This is an increasingly important topic for retailers and consumers. In fact, it’s likely that consumers will start to demand this from their retail brand of choice – or start to vote with their feet.

Over the coming year, there will be several different sustainability shifts:

  • War on plastic. We’ll all be looking at continuing to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic.
  • Clothing and fashion. A hot topic but perhaps something that fast fashion consumers aren’t ready to pay for just yet.
  • Gadget recycling. As we continue to consume and replace electronic gadgets, I feel this will gain focus over the next year.
  • Ecommerce packaging focus. There will be increasing visibility of the waste generated by ecommerce packaging and a drive to reduce cardboard and single use plastics / film to fulfil our online ordering habits.

Veganism – the meat free march continues

The vegan movement has really increased over the past year. We’ve seen McDonald’s trial vegan burgers in Canada. Plus, we’ve seen many other big brands invest in new product development and research on vegan and meat-free alternatives.

In 2020, we’ll see some key changes or effects:

  • Prime shelf space. Meat free alternatives merchandised next to meat products on supermarket shelves.
  • Restaurant menu equality. A full menu that can be ordered with or without meat – rather than the meagre vegetarian options.
  • Increasing meat free prices. Driven by excessive demand compared to the supply that is currently available.
  • Investment in infrastructure and farms. The supply chain is not set up for the increase in produce needed. So we’ll see more investment and perhaps even livestock farms converting to produce or vegetable farms.

Purpose – helping consumers understand the “why”

Purpose is increasingly important for retailers to really connect with consumers. We’ll continue to see the retailers and brands that do have a clear mission be successful. Meanwhile, those brands that don’t really stand for anything but try to be all things for all people will continue to be punished by consumers.

Also, I believe that we’ll see more advertising and marketing focused on that why. This will be similar to how the Christmas ads try to create that emotional connection between the brand and the individual consumer.

So, if you don’t have a clear purpose already… it’s time to get started!

Physical stores – more focus on in store services

As retailers continue to focus on their purpose, we’ll see more physical stores focus on new services. Either free to attract footfall – or premium/paid services that help customers for a fee. This helps solve 2 challenges.

Firstly, this is a way of continuing to bring the all-important purpose to life. It’s unlikely that a purpose could be entirely fulfilled by a packaged product – so services adds colour, texture and expertise to the shopping trip.

In addition, in store services are a way of differentiating from ecommerce. There are certain things that online competitors can’t do from a screen or through the delivery of a brown box. So, expect to see services create a point of difference that also gives consumers the human relationships that we all crave.

Social media shopping – eliminating friction and clicks from online shopping

In previous episodes, we’ve discussed how social media is transforming retail. In particular, check out episode 42: How Social Media Is Changing Retail (part 1) and episode 43: (part 2). In those episodes, Polly Barnfield highlighted the opportunity of using social media to drive footfall to your physical stores – not just your online store. Having in store services also helps give a reason to visit that you can use to engage, inspire and excite customers with on social media.

Also, in 2020, expect to see social media platforms to make online shopping easier. Instagram have been trialling in app shopping which removes the need to click through to the retailer’s website. The person stays clearly in the Instagram platform for the transaction. This could reduce basket size and browsing – but increase conversion rates. And as for returns…. that could go either way.

What will your big retail trends in 2020?

What are the trends and themes that you’re most interested in for 2020? Comment below or tag me on social media – I’d love to know!

LinkedIn: Oliver Banks

Twitter: @ollie_banks



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