Yes, it’s jingle jangle time again in retail land, and brick-and-mortar marketers are always curious to see what the season will bring in this age of shifting shopping habits—and what they need to do to buck the trend and lure shoppers to their stores. Business and marketing multichannel provider R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company (RRD) offers some insights for the 2019 shopping season with the five major trends that will drive retail sales this holiday shopping season at physical stores.

“We’re well versed with the storyline around e-commerce sites stealing business from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers,” said Toni Thompson, president at RRD Retail Solutions, in a news release. “What we’re not talking about is how retailers are evolving to compete and stay relevant in today’s digital world. While holiday shopping is vastly different than it was 10 years ago, brick-and-mortar stores are creating strong customer experiences, investing in new technology, and tapping into their expansive network of locations to show their value to consumers.”

RRD currently serves 37 of the National Retail Federation’s top 100 retailers, giving the company unique, firsthand insight on how the industry is evolving and which companies and strategies are driving the industry forward. From its work over the last 12 months, RRD has identified five key trends reshaping the retail industry when it comes to physical store locations, including:

Trend #1: Retail stores are moving up the sales funnel

Traditionally, brick-and-mortar stores represented the final stop on the customer journey, where a shopper visits a store to make their final purchase. Now, due to a rise in e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores serve as an opportunity for retailers to create a meaningful, memorable experience for consumers who will go on to remember those encounters when shopping online. In fact, a study conducted by Forrester Consulting found that experience-driven businesses who focus on investing broadly in CX across the customer life cycle, report 1.6 to 1.9 times higher year-over-year growth in customer retention, repeat purchase rates, average order values and customer lifetime value compared to other companies.

Trend #2: New retail experiences led by pop-up activations

Pop-up experiences allow companies to extend their brand beyond the typical storefront or digital channels and create lasting impressions with potential customers. RRD’s recent pop up activation with Swarovski Crystals resulted in sales that were higher than their target goal and led to increased store traffic. By adding an additional, unique form of interaction, retailers can engage with consumers in an uncommon and therefore more memorable way.

Trend #3: Voice finds its place in in-store shopping

Voice is being used to drive shoppers to physical stores. Smart retailers are optimizing their voice strategy, ensuring voice assistants like Alexa and Siri can accurately answer questions around store hours and locations. This gives retailers a leg-up on competition who have not optimized for voice and will not show up in search results.

Trend #4: E-commerce brands incorporating brick-and-mortar for deeper customer connections

E-commerce only made up roughly 10 percent of total retail sales in the second quarter of 2019. Though e-commerce will continue to grow, physical locations are not to be counted out. They offer entire sensory interactions with both the products and store employees that are more multi-dimensional than any online platform can provide. This trend is reinforced by e-commerce giants like Amazon aiming to expand to thousands of brick and mortar locations by 2021. Being able to foster in-person connections creates a differentiated experience that will keep consumers coming back to a brand.

Trend #5: “Store as Warehouse” becomes essential in the e-commerce world

As online shopping grows, specifically the concept of “order online, pick-up in-store,” more physical locations will begin acting as distribution centers. This will be key as traditional retailers aim to compete with online giants and offer an advantage due to the vast number of stores and the speed to which they can put products in customers’ hands because of their proximity. Target’s strong second quarter performance is a prime example of the advantage retailers can expect from having an in-store warehouse and the influence same-day-services can have on total sales and profits. Offerings like in-store pick-up, drive-up and delivery contributed to more than a third of Target’s digital sales, up from about 20 percent last year.

Last year, a survey by NRF found that during the winter holiday season, consumers planned to spend a total of more than $1K on average for items like decorations, candy and gifts and an equal amount of respondents (55 percent) planned to make their purchases online and at department stores. This proves that both physical and digital channels are essential for retailers when competing for consumers’ sales during peak shopping seasons.

“These trends demonstrate how retailers are evolving to stay relevant in the new commerce ecosystem,” said Doug Ryan, president of RRD Marketing Solutions, in the release. “E-commerce is only destined to grow but that doesn’t mean it’ll be the death of physical stores. It does mean that retailers need to think differently about the role and value stores bring in today’s landscape. The brands that embrace these trends are

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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