Top 2019 Trends in Operational Retail

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Today’s rapidly evolving retail landscape constantly brings new trends that all retail operators need to keep in mind when planning the year’s retail operations. Senior Director of Operations at Olive & Bette’s, Frank LoBue, shares the top trends of operational retail in 2019.

Social Commerce

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are still growing at a fast pace in 2019. These networks offer valuable insight into consumer desires and behaviors. By tracking what consumers like, share, follow, and engage with the most, social networks have the ability to understand the implicit desires of their users.

According to Frank LoBue, the key to success in 2019 will be to find ways to connect these users to online retail platforms based on this data. This is why Instagram added the ability to shop directly from Stories posts last September.

Retail as a Service

Although retail as a service was already evolving as a trend in 2018, it will become increasingly important for retail operations to take this into account this year, states Frank LoBue. Retail as a service is defined by the added value retailers’ offer to consumers via the non-merchandise aspect of their brand. Essentially, retail is no longer just about purchasing – it has become a complete experience.

This is especially important for smaller retailers, since they have the capacity to create communities around their brand.

Here are examples of what can be implemented to offer a ‘retail as a service’ model to consumers:

  • Hosting classes and events
  • Offering free Wi-Fi
  • Adding an onsite cafe
  • Hosting private parties
  • Offering gift wrapping and delivery

Not only does this type of operation allow for better consumer experience, but it can provide new revenue streams for retailers. For example, Frank and Oak offer a monthly clothing subscription box curated by professional stylists.

Effective Use of Artificial Intelligence

According to a research report by Brightedge, 77% of consumers used AI services or devices on a regular basis in 2018 – and this number will only keep growing.

AI is a powerful tool that can allow retail operations to tailor better buyer journeys that are customized to every consumer, without the overhead of one-on-one customer service.

According to Frank LoBue, one method of using A.I. is through Facebook Messenger chat bots. These tools can increase consumer engagement and provide valuable insight on what buyers are looking for – and it is completely automated.

Micro-Warehousing

This is a trend to watch out for, especially since Walmart has announced its plan to start a micro-warehouse of its own.

Micro-warehousing uses automation and robotics to enhance the buyer journey – for instance, Walmart plans to use its new Alphabot to fulfill online grocery orders as soon as consumers complete their order.

This is a great opportunity to enhance already existing micro-warehousing experiences such as IKEA – instead of relying on paper orders, buyers could use their smartphones to enter their order and automatically have it be prepared for them by advanced robotics in the warehouse.

Concluding Thoughts

According to Frank LoBue, retail operations will need to take proactive steps in 2019 to ensure they are keeping up with their competition.

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