‘The retail industry has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade, and it continues to evolve quickly led by advancements in digital channels and a driven by a combination of an evolving technological landscape, the shifting preferences of consumers as demographics start to skew younger and an aggressively growing competition from new entrants in the market.” This is according to Joseph Ebata, Nigeria retail expert and President of Bervidson Group, a retail and brand consulting, training and development group in Lagos.
Speaking to retailinfo.com.ng, Ebata said that “as the face of the retail market in Nigeria is constantly evolving, ‘business as usual’ is no longer an option in today’s dynamic retail environment. Retailers must continue quickly to adapt to new shifts in demographics, attitudes and consumer preferences in order to survive and thrive.”
“This trend doesn’t necessarily mean that the high street is heading the way of the dinosaurs. However, the selection pressure on retail businesses is changing, and those that fail to adapt certainly face decline and even extinction.” he further opined.
According to him, “in 2025 and beyond, the market will be defined by emerging technologies that change the way consumers interact with their favourite brands, a shift in preferences, and the emergence of new battle lines for e-commerce”.
Below are some of the key trends Ebata believes will shape retail in the year 2025 and beyond.
- Multi-Channel Is The New Normal
According to Ebata, multi-channel is vital for captivating consumers and keeping them engaged from first impressions to the eventual point of sale.
One of the interesting dichotomies of the current retail model is that despite their alarming closure rates in the US for instance, brick-and-mortar stores still play a key role in the sales process. Nevertheless, it has transitioned from the primary point of sales to being part of a broader retail strategy. Instead of a single touchpoint for consumers, the trend in retail over the past few years has been to widen the net that brands use to catch leads and convert them.
This is largely a result of the changing methods consumers employ to make shopping decisions. In a report BigCommerce – 2018 Omni-Channel Retail Report – it found that only 11.8% of Gen-Z shops on Facebook, while nearly 25% of Baby Boomers shop on the social platform. Millennials, meanwhile, prefer to buy products they discover on Instagram and Snapchat.
How can retailers maintain active presences in all of these places and keep fulfilment streamlined? In Ebata’s opinion, this certainly calls for deep integration across all channels, including websites, marketplaces, social media and brick-and-mortar.
- The Rise Of Experiential Retail
Speaking on customer experience, Ebata said “What is most exciting is retail is the power of an individual anywhere to create a brand they are passionate about, to be able to serve and treat their customers the way they would want to be treated!”
According to him, focusing on providing excellent service across sales channels will pay big dividends in the coming year. This is because is today’s retail landscape, experience is the new retail currency and the retail that have plenty of it will not only smile to the bank but would have laid the foundation for a thriving and sustainable business.
The old model of retailers (in-store and online) strictly focusing on products being sold are no longer sustainable and those days are over! Today’s consumers have slowly but surely been moving away from strictly shopping for products, instead they are now seeking a more engaging experience. The trend has been driven largely by millennials and their preference for experiences over things.
Even so, simply remodelling a store isn’t enough. It calls for a total ‘remodelling of both store, people, processes and systems! And the retailers that do so, creating engrossing experiences, are the ones that will survive the ensuing retail onslaught, thrive and become sustainable come 2015 and beyond.
“Who is that retailer thinking of virtual reality, augmented reality, and improved mobile technology and how to use same to push the brands to add layers and new experiences to their traditional retail models? To that retailer, I will say welcome to Nigeria Retail 2025, for you shall surely eat of the fruit of your labour, your stores shall not close, plenty shall be your fruits and whatsoever you do shall prosper!” Ebata said.
- Redefining and Creating Brands as a Culture
According to Ebata, companies will have to consider the image their brand conveys to the world, and work to create cultures that match consumers’ changing values and world views.
More and more, consumers are shopping with their emotions instead of their wallets. Indeed, millennials’ changing preferences and attitudes regarding social consciousness is already impacting how retailers present and position themselves. The trend implies that retailers must begin to equate their internal culture to their exterior identity.
Retailers must increasingly engage consumers outside of traditional shopping parameters and becoming cultural figures. Today, brands need to look more actively and purposefully at the culture buzzing around them be it in entertainment, in fashion, in news or on social media and use that awareness to inform how they should best position and integrate themselves into the world.
- Making E-Commerce Delivery Faster
“What happens if customers don’t have to compromise on their buying experience because they get the exact same delivery experience (if not better) on their favourite brand’s website?
E-commerce continues its march toward becoming the most popular shopping medium across the board. Today, most major brands have an online presence (those who don’t, do so at their own peril!) and they all offer comparable prices. Even forerunner like Amazon and Walmart have become largely homogenous in this regard, so retailers seeking to differentiate themselves have found other avenues to deliver value to consumers.
Programs like Amazon Prime have made two-day shipping the standard, so cutting down on shipping time is vital for any e-commerce business looking to stay afloat.
Importantly, this trend is set to continue well into 2025 as brands evaluate new ways to differentiate themselves from an increasingly saturated crowd. Is drone delivery systems the answer, perhaps not but certainly it is part of it.
This trend goes hand in hand with users’ search for experiences, as they are more willing to pay for a service that delivers a tangible benefit along with a personalized offering.
In conclusion, Ebata noted that the above trends in retail are driven by a combination of an evolving technological landscape the shifting preferences of consumers as demographics start to skew younger and an aggressively growing competition particularly from new entrants in the market.
“By embracing these trends and preparing for them, retailers can look to 2025 as another positive opportunity to grow.” he concluded.