3 Ways Retailers Are Taking On 2019

by Scott Rigby

posted on 01-24-2019

As nearly 40,000 keen retailers converged on New York City for NRF2019, one of the industry’s biggest conferences, the excitement was palpable. The annual event is always a standout for its sheer breadth of ideas, innovation and quality of speakers. In partnership with Microsoft, Adobe was thrilled to lead a large contingent of retailers from Australia and New Zealand. Emerging from the showroom floor, here are three key trends retailers are readying for in 2019.

1. Elevate the in-store experience

It feels as if retail has turned a corner – there is incredible positivity about the industry’s future that has been absent in previous years. Fear of Amazon has been cast aside and retailers are seeing their bricks-and-mortar stores as a unique selling proposition to leverage.

This trend of investing in in-store experiences was apparent from our NRF2019 “store safari”. We had an amazing retail experience in Samsung 837, a concept that combines art, fashion, technology and sport in unparalleled ways. It’s not so much a store – you can’t buy any products – as a new kind of place filled with ideas, experiences and cutting-edge devices.

By way of contrast, Starbucks Roastery uses far less technology in favour of aesthetics to envelop customers in the brand, from brass piping across the ceiling from the massive in-store roaster to the rich aromas of roasting coffee and freshly baked bread from the onsite bakery.

Adobe’s recently released whitepaper, Digital Leadership in Retail, highlights investment in in-store experiences as a strong focus for retail decision makers in Australia and New Zealand. It starts with redesigning stores and physical spaces to support an all-encompassing shopping experience.

In addition to this, the whitepaper reveals that leading digital retailers are focused on making experiences fun and valuable through in-store personalisation and cross-channel content delivery as a way of setting themselves apart from the competition.

2. Make it personal

In 2019, retailers are acknowledging the “empowered shopper” and the unrelenting consumer demand for convenience, immediacy and exceptional experiences. This is a key focus for leading digital retailers in Australia and New Zealand, who noted that consumers are taking more control through their research and have a hunger for self-service. To meet this need and build real trust with consumers, brands must ensure their content is engaging, personalised and relevant. This is easier said than done: when scaling personalisation, it is one thing to build a pilot project that suggests a successful way forward, and another altogether to roll it out across the enterprise and capture all that new value.

This difficulty was apparent in the exhibition hall where exhibitors were far less focused on conventional point-of-sale retail hardware and much more interested in data, in-store personalisation and cross-channel content delivery. Successful retailers are taking control of their data as the sector’s marketers recognise that data is fast becoming the most important and competitively valuable asset they possess.

3. Champing to change

Another trend – apparent through overflowing attendance at the presentation – was innovation. To respond to its own unique circumstances, each organisation needs a strong entrepreneurial culture and leadership that is supportive of change. As one of the presentations highlighted, failure is a pitstop on the way to success. Change is permanent, so we need to stop seeing failure in the negative.

Retailers may have high expectations in 2019, and there are amazing opportunities in ANZ. The growth in niche retail brands, the expansion of online marketplaces (a site or app that unites many retailers under one banner, such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Gumtree) and subscription businesses (where customers pay a regular fee to access products or services, such as recipe and food service Blue Apron, instructional video site Lynda.com and dating site eHarmony). These are just a handful of examples as retailers experiment with new formats to meet customer demand.

The disruption rocking retail in the Asia-Pacific region is unmissable – every data point indicates this. But the retailers at NRF2019 are seeing it as an opportunity to make fundamental changes within their businesses and open up new areas of innovation to improve customer service, build better products and empower employees.

Read the latest whitepaper from Adobe and Which50 on Digital Leadership in Retail to discover the priorities and trends retail decision makers in ANZ face.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Corporate Marketer, APAC