7 retail trends – a 2018 forecast by the South African Council for Shopping Centres

7-trends-in-retail-a-2018-forecast-by the-South-African-Council-for-Shopping-Centres

Scan Retail spoke to Amanda Stops, the CEO of the South African Council for Shopping Centres (SACSC), to find out what retail trends we can expect to see emerging in the SA market this year. These are the 7 trends she identified:

  1. Customisation

“We’re expecting to see more customisation, which means giving the customer the opportunity to design his/her own product,” says Amanda. “For example, this could be a denim store allowing you to customise your new pair of jeans in-store, or a restaurant where you can create your own pizza or salad.”

Converse and Nike offer online custom shoe design, while the local franchise Andiccio 24 doesn’t have a set menu but lets you build your own pizza, from choosing the type of base to any mix of toppings (savoury or sweet).

Letting customers take control of their purchase in this manner means they can get exactly what they want, so it’s clear why it’s a trend that is expected to grow.

  1. Localisation

A tendency that we are only too happy to see is localisation. “Localisation has become a global movement where shoppers support brands and products from their community/country,” says Amanda.

This means rather than lusting after imported brands, consumers will be seeking out products that are proudly home grown, from local designers, artisans and companies. Think Proudly South African, and also how chic indigenous succulents and African beadwork has become recently.

A positive spin off of this trend is that it stimulates the local economy and encourages job creation. It’s also an eco-conscious trend, as it reduces the need to import goods over long distances and the associated carbon footprint.

Related post: The Biggest Challenge In Mall Retailing, And How You Can Fix It

  1. Experimental retailing

Experimental retailing is the third trend Amanda cites as making a headway into the South African retail space. She explains, “Experimental retailing is when retailers and restaurateurs try something new. They step outside the norm to test the reactions of their customers.”

Consumers are bombarded with marketing messages throughout their waking life, which has made them very good at ignoring most of them. This is why unusual, out-of-the-box ideas are your best chance to really get people to notice – and remember – your brand.

  1. Technology intervention

Trend #4 is unlikely to surprise you, given the rampant innovation we’re currently seeing in technology.

“Increasingly, retailers will be using technology to make simple things easier, such as paying for items,” says Amanda.

One example we’ve seen of this in South Africa (and internationally) is the growing availability of the ‘tap and go’ or contactless payment system. This enables customers to simply tap their activated bank card against a pay point to make a payment, without needing to insert or swipe the card, or even put in their PIN number.

Chat bots for customer service, artificial intelligence (AI) to recommend purchases according to taste profiles, virtual reality (VR) to explore products before you buy them – these are just a few of the other possible ways that technology can streamline and simplify the retail process.

  1. Social media

Amanda predicts that retailers will be increasingly utilising social media to connect with their consumers – “But expect brands to be using more than just Facebook,” she adds.

Instagram is leading the charge, with its new Instagram Shopping feature which allows users to purchase a product they see in a photo with a simple click-through button. And with 80% of its users following a brand, this seems like a promising new e-commerce avenue.

However social media can also be used to encourage brand engagement, deal with customer queries timeously (again, think chat bots), and for ‘social listening’ – tracking what customers are saying about your brand, to get a better sense of their sentiment towards it and therefore how to improve or leverage it.

  1. Experiential retail

“Experiential” has been a marketing buzzword of late, and it’s not going anywhere just yet. Amanda says, “Consumers are becoming more aware of how they are treated in stores and restaurants.” This means customer service is becoming increasingly critical to attract and retain your market share.

Given the convenience of online shopping, bricks and mortar retailers need to have an incentive to bring buyers into the store. This means giving them a positive experience which will keep them coming back.

  1. Lifestyle and wellness

“Consumers are fast becoming more aware of their well being and health,” says Amanda. “2018 will see a lot more emphasis on healthy living. Retail needs to take this into consideration.”

Saks Fifth Avenue opened a health, beauty and fitness space in its New York flagship store last year, called the Wellery. It has a salt room spa (one of only a few in the city), and houses 20 individual retailers offering a range of goods and services like luxury workout gear, fitness classes, and health and beauty treatments like facials and makeovers. The 20 retailers are on rotation, so customers will get to try something new every few months.

Need some help?

Have you been inspired with some ideas for your retail marketing in 2018? We hope so!

To find out more South African Council for Shopping Centres and how they can help your retail business, visit www.sacsc.co.za

If you need assistance with your in-store marketing displays, contact us. Scan Retail is a leading South African retail display specialist and proud member of SACSC.