Despite a rocky economic start, a presidential election and the false hype surrounding an impending retail apocalypse, 2017 ended on a high note. Holiday sales for the months of November and December rose 5.5% over the same period the year before – exceeding the National Retail Federation’s forecast of a 3.6% to 4% increase.
Additionally, the 2017 holiday growth was not limited to a few select retailers or specific verticals – nor were consumers holding back on making big-ticket purchases in home electronics, furniture and appliances.
Now that 2018 is underway, the NRF projects that total retail sales growth for the year will jump between 3.8% and 4.4% compared to 2017. Online and non-store purchases (vending machines and kiosks, for example) will increase between 10% and 12% - although eMarketer puts that figure at nearly 16% with online sales reaching $526.1 billion in 2018. It’s clear that experts have high hopes for the retail industry in 2018, fueled by economic insights such as anticipated labor market growth and lower unemployment rates.
Retailers would be wise to use the upswing to their advantage and invest in technology to make their business as efficient as possible, while helping them better understand who their customers are, what they want and when, and how best to serve them.
Susan Reda, Editor-in-Chief at STORES Magazine, summed it up best in her annual article on what to expect in the year ahead. She suggests that “the path to consumer nirvana in 2018 will consist of unique experiences, transparency, operational efficiencies and a vigilance to reducing pain points in the shopper journey.” This means retailers will have to work hard to find ways that allows them to establish a connection with their evermore demanding, fickle and brand agnostic customers to stand out against the competition. It also means that personalization is high on the list of areas to enhance, and that the overall customer experience must be a major priority in 2018 and beyond.
At JustEnough, we believe customer centricity starts with a better understanding of demand and how to forecast for it, continuously introducing exciting new products with optimized inventory planning, as well as appealing to shoppers with highly tailored and targeted assortments that consider store layout and size. It’s about capturing and acting on data-driven insights that can help transform the way retailers connect with their customer, and thus garner greater market share.
Interested in learning more about our end-to-end, fully integrated retail solutions? Please contact us today to discover how we help hundreds of retailers around the globe resolve their most critical business challenges and thrive.