What 2017 Holds For Shoppers and Retailers?


Retail business is throwing new possibilities to both customers and retailers.

“Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” said George Bernard Shaw.

Change is there in every industry and the same holds well with Retail industry too.

Now, let us see how the retail sector has evolved over the years; what it holds in 2017 for both shoppers and retailers and how it will shape up in the future days to come. Check the video below.

The Evolution of Retail…

Retailing dates back to the pre-historic period. Trade is known to have flourished since ancient times. With urbanization, trade saw tremendous growth.

  • The first department store Harding, Howell & Co was opened in 1796 on Pall Mall, London. The Harrods business in London was a big talk when it was launched in 1834. The period 1838–1920 marked the beginning of large-scale establishments of departmental stores in France, UK and US. In 1858, Macy’s was founded by Rowland Hussey Macy in New York which eventually became the largest store in the world.
  • Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. an American retail magnate established Selfridges, a department store based in London back in 1909. Known as the ‘Earl of Oxford Street’, Selfridge redefined retail shopping. He believed shopping as an activity that appealed to every sense. His famous saying goes like this…”Excite the mind, and the hand will reach the pocket.”
  • Rapid economic growth fundamentally changed consumer behaviour, shopping pattern and their experience too. Both economic and regulatory reforms started bringing in more competitors. Stockmann in the centre of Helsinki, the Schocken stores etc had architectural innovation too which attracted customers hugely.
  • Malls in mainland China gained huge popularity with the rise of consumerism.  Hong Kong too followed the style.
  • Retail in the past typically depicted racks of merchandise, typical salesmen, cash counters, registers and a security to watch your move. Eventually, new retail models were established along with the evolving technologies. Michael Aldrich, an English inventor invented online shopping in 1979.
  • Thomson Holidays in Europe was the first company to establish their online presence by installing their online shopping facility in 1981.
  • Online shopping evolved a long way in the years followed by.
  • On July 5th, 1994: Jeff Bezos launched Amazon which stands today as the largest online retailer and as of 2016 the name stands as the fourth most valuable company in the world.
  • In 1997: Mobile commerce was coined which initiated delivery of eCommerce right into the hands of customers
  • In 2016: Shoppers started engaging more with M-commerce applications and are better informed through social media. With more proliferation of smartphones and better functioning of mobile applications, the global M-commerce market is predicted to reach US$700 billion in 2017.

Formats are changing. Expectations are changing, Preferences are changing, Experiences are changing….Technology has been the prime factor in creating a revolution in the retail industry. From supply to distribution, from order to delivery, from brand promotion to fan followers, from trials to virtual trying, from customers to “digital customers” the industry has been seeing several changes. Digital transformation is a boon to both shoppers and retailers.

Let’s See How 2017 is Going To Be!!!

The year 2017 is exciting. Moving away from manipulation, gimmicks, we are gradually moving towards a state of collective branding, a better understanding of customers and their choices, listening more and creating moments that spreads the brand’s reach. The notion of specific destination for consumers is changing.

The year 2017 is taking us closer to a completely digital universe. Online data, online retail, online payment, online marketing, online business and every single aspect are going online. According to IDC, by 2020 the digital universe – the data we create and copy annually is likely to touch 44 trillion gigabytes. This digital universe is the golden era with enormous opportunities both for retailers and consumers.

#Consumers Are Gaining Control of Their Shopping Experiences

Customers know better and their expectations are high. Customers have started expressing a dramatically stronger preference to the brands they are familiar with. They can buy across borders. A deluge of developing technologies conspires to change the shopping experience – Mobile technology, Internet of things, Social media, Big data, Artificial intelligence, Virtual reality. Mobile force is getting stronger day-by-day.

#Top Motivators for Online Shoppers

Convenience, ease and compelling shopping experience are the key factors that contribute to the growth of online shoppers.

#Social Media

Social media offers better scopes for both shoppers and retailers. Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, and the World’s most sought after retail speaker said in a statement, “Treat media as the store and store as the media.”

2017 Predictions and Facts Include;

  • Digital buyer percentage is likely to touch 55% in the year 2017, according to Statista.
  • Worldwide retail eCommerce sales will touch $27 trillion by 2020, according to eMarketer.
  • Asia Pacific will remain the largest eCommerce market, with India as one of the key escalating markets, according to eMarketer.
  • Mobile Apps remain the efficient channel for retailers.
  • Personalization is ranked number one among the top ten critical success factors, as per Forrester’s.
  • Amazon is ranked as the world’s largest online retailers with about 244 million customer accounts as of 2016.
  • Nearly one in four online shoppers shop online at least once a week, reveals, a new global online retail spending statistics.

# Top Players

Amazon, Taobao, Alibaba, Flipkart, Snapdeal, Wallmart, Best Buy, Jabong, Ebay, Target are few of the top players who have learned to understand their customers better and predict what they want next.

Future of Retail

Future retail trends seem to have no fixed horizon…it can keep moving and winners are those who learn to transform along with the moving horizon. The rest will wither. The one who takes action will lead. The differentiator is again going to experience… So, be prepared to see experience related changes. Mobile apps experience will further improve.

“The time-starved consumers of 2017 wants the retailers and brands they trust to intimately understand their needs and expertly solve their problems,” said Bryan Amaral, CEO and Principal Consultant at Clientricity LLC.

# Create the Moment

Brands need to plot the moments and evaluate on what surfaces they can be on to reach this moment with the consumers. Brands can go first but winners are the ones who are causing that moment.

Physical retail stores can still exist, but with a different form. Survivors are those who create unique in-store experiences to customers. For example, today, Amazon Go is creating waves with new shopping technology.

Another example is Crate & Barrel, a 170 plus store American chain of retail stores that recently tested a program called “Mobile Tote” in which shoppers browse the shelves using store-provided tablets.

# Technology Will Be At the Front Again

Technology is and will be the top factor. Investment at the right time in technologies that work well to reach your products and services to a wider audience can be the only choice left for retailers. One who re-imagines is the real winner in the retail industry.

Amazon is massive today because Jeff Bezos preaches customer focus and long-term thinking. Mobile Apps will have better roles to play, virtual trying can leap further and the internet of things will ease out the whole buying and selling process. SaaS is going to be a hit in the digital commerce platform deployment.

“AR and VR will also add long term real value internally in distribution and fulfilment opportunities, product development and sourcing, externally customer fitting, visualization and experience enrichment,” said Leslie Hand, Vice President, IDC Retail Insights.

#Bottom Line

Personalization is and will be the top most factors contributing towards becoming a winner.

“Personalization is no longer an optional activity. It is an essential component of meaningful CX which will power both acquisition and retention strategies,” said Ernan Roman, President ERDM.

Final Say

The year 2017 is going to be an exhilarating year for shoppers. With new technologies, new benchmarks, revamping ideas, augmented payment and delivery systems, better timelines, shopping is going to be a delight this year and in the years to come. Customers are sure to engage with world-class experiences. For retailers; better strategies will give new meaning to experience. On the whole, it is a win-win for both customers and retailers.  Customers and retailers can see new possibilities. With the right wisdom to see the profound, retail business is for sure getting bigger than what we think.

WRITTEN BY Meenakshi Krishnan

Meenakshi Krishnan is a Content Consultant at OpenXcell, a pioneering Mobile App Development Company in India and USA. A techie at heart, Meenakshi is passionate about the start-up ecosystem, entrepreneurship, latest tech innovations, and all that makes this digital world. When she is not writing, she loves to read, cook, and paint. Prior to this, she was working for a technology marketing company based in Norwalk as a content contributor.