2016 is fast coming to its close. Most retailers are realistic about what the run-up to the year end will be: a holiday season that will produce modest gains over last year’s but no more, capped by the steep discount required to get consumers to spend.
What is more relevant is to understand the landscape and outlook for 2017 and plan for it. Here is why 2017 will be an interesting year for retail:
1. Bankruptcies continue
This year, we saw some significant retail bankruptcies: Vestis Retail Group, Pacific Sunwear, and Hancock Fabrics. Likely candidates for next year: retailers with operational struggles, leadership issues, and Amazon nipping at their numbers.
SEE ALSO: 5 retail trends to watch in 2017
2. The beginning of retail’s Uberisation
Businesses from Uber to Amazon establish their credibility in core competencies and then expand out from there. Amazon’s on-demand cloud computing for example may change the market.
3. Goodbye, beacons
Beacons – small pieces of Bluetooth-enabled hardware placed in stores that rely on retailers’s apps to share coupons and promotions with shoppers – were doomed from the start. They will probably continue to fail in 2017.
This year, we saw many store closures including Macy and Walmart. Of course, Amazon is playing a catalysing role in these decisions, at least in part. According a research from Bloomberg, two out of three shoppers would prefer come in person to see and touch. To win, physical retailers must make it fun and valuable for shoppers to come in person.
5. Big gains for Amazon
The giant pulled in $32.7Bin the third quarter alone. At this point, I would not bet against them. Amazon is building more warehouses, opening physical stores and generally making smart moves that will set them up for more competitiveness.
6. Smarter use of social
Watch for retailers in 2017 to creatively leverage the platforms for competitive advantage. That could mean out-of-the-box promotions to followers on Facebook to engaging with consumers in a more human, quirky and enjoyable tone on their page.
7. Reinvention of physical retailers
In the 60s, even in the 90s, hanging out at the mall was fun for teens and was something you “got” to do. Back then, it was a pleasure. Today, spoiled by the fast shipping, free returns and nearly limitless product options of e-commerce, trips to physical stores look like a chore.
Progressive brick-and-mortar retailers will try to shift that mindset this year and make shopping an exciting experience once again, with special deals, unique services, entertainment and more.