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Technology is the key shaper of year’s retail trends

Technology is the key shaper of year’s retail trends
MONDAY, March 11, 2019

THIS IS poised to be a transformational year for retail. Technology in 2019 continues to change the rules of engagement, consumers are more demanding than ever, and getting them to notice your brand amid all the noise in the market is an even greater challenge.

“Digital technology is changing the customer experience,” says Thanit Osathalert, head of consumer and retail, KPMG in Thailand. “Customers are currently more likely to use digital technology to explore and interact with potential purchases. 
This offers retailers the opportunity to transform how they interact with the consumer.” 
In its latest publication, KPMG has identified key retail trends that will shape the industry in 2019.
From ‘we’ to ‘me’
The best retailers are forensically using customer-centric data to deliver hyper-personalisation. Retailers can now get a very in-depth understanding of their consumers’ behavioural habits through a new frontier in personalisation such as through analysing emotional data, eye movements and DNA, in addition to searches, purchases and views to pinpoint exactly what customers need in real time. 
“Adding analytics to the mix, retailers can use predictive analytics to forecast their customers’ next moves. This is also forcing retailers to reinvent the in-store experience,” adds Osathalert.
Consumers get price savvy
The introduction of smartphones has enabled consumers to become more price savvy and informed than ever before. Modern shoppers don’t want to pay full price and they aren’t afraid to share their opinions through reviews. Paying less for more and talking about it has become a trend in itself with more avenues for consumers to leave reviews and suggestions. In fact, 81 per cent of shoppers do online research before committing to the purchase and 89 per cent of these customers begin their buying process with a search engine.
The rise and rise of voice
In 2019, we will see artificial intelligence’s impact on retail grow substantially in two key areas: smart speakers and chatbots. Most smart speakers depend on assistants from current e-commerce giants – which opens up new doors into consumer homes for retailers. Chatbots offer businesses the opportunity to provide personalised online customer experience. 
Experiential retail is coming to life
Retailers are actively experimenting with experience as their most powerful tool to win and retain customers. New figures show consumers continue to spend less on buying things, and more on doing things. By creating a more immersive experience, retailers can drive people to their stores and ensure they leave not just with products but also memories.
‘Planet friendly’ is due to arrive
The planet friendly movement has momentum. Consumers are shopping with emotion and values as much as their wallets. In 2019 we will see companies make more meaningful sustainability commitments that create significant impact that align with the values of the company, its brands and its target audiences.
Social currency will be more transactional
Social media has become embedded in many customers’ purchasing journeys. More and more, consumers are relying on community and word-of-mouth instead of advertisements for product recommendations. Retailers need to actively engage with these tools as consumers increasingly use them as a primary interaction point with brands and companies.
From transaction to service provider
In today’s retail economy, understanding the power of platforms is vital. The supply chain is no longer the central aggregator of business value. What a company owns matters less than what it can connect. Platforms that are dominating the retail industry know that the power lies in selling a service where they can create the means of connection.
Due to the high risks of adapting core business models, traditional players will collaborate and form partnerships to drive efficiency. We will see companies invest in a business but not get involved directly, consequently seeing the rise of joint ventures in 2019.
“In conclusion, pairing digital technology with predictive analytics is a powerful combination for any retailer who is able to connect these dots. Retailers that are performing well have connected their physical and digital presence to deliver an enhanced customer experience.“A seamless hand-off between and among technologies and in-store, during single and multiple journeys, is becoming a must as customers come to expect a ‘phygital’ experience,” says Osathalert.

Contributed by BizKPMG