Shopping today is a different experience than twenty years ago, ten even. Technology has changed the world. It also has changed the way we shop. Technical in-store innovations track buying habits and text you tips to save money, some even offer virtual fitting rooms. Social media allows you to browse advice from friends, strangers, and the stores themselves on potential purchases. Not every shopping trend is a home run but the following five are here to stay. It’s time to step into the present and be willing to embrace the future.

Technological Advancements

Smart retail merchants know they have to keep up with technology to remain competitive. Customers are armed with smart phones and tablets and they know how to use them!

Cashiers and clerks, when appropriate, are being replaced with cloud-based POS (Point of Sale) systems. Beacons that provide in-store analytics and marketing solutions are expected to become more and more prevalent. Virtual dressing rooms can let you see what your selections will look like in a variety of lighting and scenarios. And 3D printing is already revolutionizing things further. Searching for the perfect engagement ring perhaps? A 3D mock-up and you’re not just looking at an image or guessing how it might look on you; you’re trying on your exact design. This shopping trend is here to stay and greatly enhance the shopping experience.

Social Networks as Shopping Platforms

More and more brands are reaching out to consumers through Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. “Buy” buttons, “Shop Now” buttons, or “Buyable” pins are different ways brands are selling and interacting with their customers on social media platforms they already love. Retailers used to rely on ads and customer conversations on social media but now key players like Nordstrom or Home Depot allow shoppers to shop with pictures and complete their purchases without ever leaving the comfort of home. Social shopping trends are only going to become more popular and more established.

Tricked-Out Rewards Programs

When consumers began growing tired of the traditional points-for-purchases loyalty programs, retailers started revamping their models to make them more creative and appealing. Already in place at select retailers, loyalty programs reward shoppers for actions and engagement such as walking and weight tracking, in addition to earning generic points for purchases. New non-traditional rewards programs are on the rise and represent a new shopping trend that will continue to be tested.

Ecommerce Goes Brick-and-Mortar

It seems like just yesterday when every brick-and-mortar retailer was scrambling to develop a strong online presence but today the tables have turned. Retailers that were once exclusively online sites are now opening real physical stores you can visit in person. As most retail sales are still transacted offline, many online entities believe their survival and success depends on doubling down and playing both sides of the coin.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Increases Twofold

Polls and surveys indicate customers like to feel good knowing that the stores they patronize are ethical and contributing to worthwhile causes. More consumers than ever want to shop at businesses that are donating part of their profits to local charitable causes. Understand your customers’ values and what’s important to them.

It’s a different world out there and shopping is no exception. Embrace technology, adapt and keep a forward eye out for new trends and how they might impact your business. It’s time to grab your smart phone and enjoy the ride. We recommend getting a detailed competitive mystery shopping report about how your competitors are already capitalizing on these shopping trends and evaluate which are important to pursue for your business.

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