We are well into 2017 and here is looking ahead to another year in apparel retail. Consistent integration in technology along with innovation and personalization will be the key drivers of success in this sector. According to a mid December report released by Moody's, a growth of 6% to 8% is expected this year. Nothing exceptional, but steady nevertheless.
Here is a look at a few retail trends that are set to dictate terms in apparel retail this year.
Mobile Phone will continue to be a dominant force
For quite some time now, the mobile phone has emerged as the most preferred shopping platform for customers across sectors. It's no different in apparel retail and this will continue to be the trend this year as well. Retailers will look to better their mobile engagement strategies from the ones in the past and look to make a difference. Mobile not only bridges the gap between physical and digital channels, but also reduces friction in the overall shopping journey. Besides achieving essential in-store personalization, mobile phones also help retailers easily address their multi channel fulfillment needs. The mobile is now bigger than ever, and hence will continue to be a dominant force in Apparel Retail.
There is always space for innovative concepts and ideas
Competition among retailers are immense these days. The emergence of numerous off price discount stores and the powerful establishment of e-commerce have contributed to declining departmental store sales. At such a time, apparel retailers that can effectively innovate stand a good chance of success. Mention should be made of the unique showroom strategy of the men's apparel company 'Bonobos'. Bonobos, in order to limit in-store inventory, started housing products only for display at the showroom. The purchase needs to be made online as the products are shipped directly to the customer for free. With competition intensifying, retailers this year will look to improvise and be more innovative.
The Smart stores will look to get Smarter
IoT in Retail has already played a massive role thus far in providing the smart stores of today. Stores in apparel retail will look to continue deploying beacon sensors throughout the entire stretch of their ecosystem, especially the supply chain. Retailers have to think beyond the already existing interactive mirror, and others. Retailers will look to exercise precision with regards to utilizing artificial intelligence in order to provide a smarter store. 2017 might be the year when artificial intelligence in apparel retail starts to gain full traction unlike in the past. The advent of AI and machine learning is bound to double up the power of IoT in retail. One can expect the smart stores in apparel retail to get smarter this year.
The rise of UGC and Social Listening in Apparel Retail
UGC or user generated content is an apparel specific trend that will continue to gain significance this year. Retailers believe that it is one of the best ways to attain brand awareness and also drive sales, primarily across various social media platforms. Social listening will provide retailers a deeper insight to the behavioral analytics of their consumers, and this way they can better attend to both- their online and in-store personalization needs by designing pertinent engagement strategies. Retailers will continue to invest in social media listening initiatives in order to know their customers better. This will help them in building customer loyalty in retail and hold them in good stead for the time to come.