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Top 8 Notables of Retail 2017

This is an archived post from OrderDynamics, now Tecsys retail division.
Top 8 Notables of Retail 2017 2017 is almost over and it was both the 'best of times, and worst of times' from a retail perspective. From the overblown and ceaseless reports of the 'retail apocalypse', swinging to a banner holiday season, to the numerous new technologies and innovations that were released. With so many swings, it is easy to miss something. So here is our recap of the year with the top 8 notables of retail 2017.

1. Voice Commerce

One retail innovation we believed would be big in 2017 was the change in how people buy. The development from e-commerce to m-commerce and more notable this year, to voice commerce. And yes, we were spot on in this prediction.  Amazon, Google and even Apple have jumped on the smart speaker/voice assistant bandwagon – and so far it seems to be a hit. In fact, 24% of consumers already own an in-home voice control device and another 20% is planning on getting one within the next year. This has a huge impact on how and where people buy – and how retailers need to adapt omni-channel strategies to include this new purchasing channel.

2. Speed and Convenience

Another trend that has been and will continue to be big in retail, is the customer's need for speed and convenience. It spans across all aspects of retail from buying, to shipping to even returning merchandise. Retail 2017 was the year that we saw retailers stepping up their game here. For instance there have been new innovations like Amazon In-Home Delivery, Walmart introducing 35 second returns and Scan & Go, as well as Best Buy 20min Reserve and Pick-up. The pace quickens.

3. Pop-up Retail Experience

The importance of experience is also not something that may be new, but is surely something that received plenty of play in Retail 2017. Pop-up shops play a big part in that, with a number of retailers trying it out, in fact Spirit Halloween, opened 1300 pop-up stores during the month of October. But it is not only the e-tailers which are opening pop-up stores. Established brick and mortar stores such as Nike, Prada and Fendi had been testing and deploying pop-up stores, too. Check out this great infographic from our friends at Colourfast for some more details.

4. Exclusivity

Some retailers took the retail experience a step further by making it exclusive. Nike as an example is opening a new flagship store in New York in 2019, of which the 5th floor is only available to NikePlus members. This floor will then host exclusive products and services that can not be found anywhere else. This also, on top of the fact that Nike chose to follow a page from Apple's early days, by limiting its 30,000 retail partners down to the key 40. Amazon Prime members also got the first look at the Amazon Echo Dot this year, as you had to be a member to get delivery on the day of release. With traditional loyalty programs shown to only affect 30% of Gen Z shoppers, it is no wonder that retailers are moving to the "loyalty" program for exclusivity.    

5. Retail Co-Opetition

One of the very interesting things to come out of Retail 2017 was the partnership between Amazon and Kohl’s. Retail co-opetition is not something that even crossed our minds when we did our predictions in 2016. However, it seems to have taken off with Amazon experience stores opening in Kohl’s and Kohl’s even excepting returns from Amazon purchases. This is a trend to continue watching in 2018 – I know we are curious to see who else takes advantage of it!

6. Virtual Reality

Another shift in retail was the one to incorporate virtual reality. And this is one that we will keep a close eye on to see what innovation comes from it. Ikea, Wayfair, and Lowe's all released apps where you could virtually place their furniture in your living room (or pretty much anywhere you want). But that is not all where VR is playing a part in retail, it is now even being used for training in-store associates. The applications of VR could be endless for a creative retailer.

7.  Paradox: Bankruptcies & Banner Sales

Of course, we cannot talk about Retail 2017 without mentioning the spree of retail bankruptcies.  As of September 2017 there had already been 19 enterprise-level retailers that filed for bankruptcy.  But does that mean that 2017 was the beginning of the  end for retail? No, it does not. A wise and sound research study by IHL group, clarified reality behind the fog of headlines with the report “Debunking the Retail Apocalypse". The report showed that in 2017 there were 1,326 net retail openings. Yes, retail is changing. And yes, retailers cannot sit back, fail to adjust and expect to survive. But retail is still here to stay, and perhaps stronger than ever. Not only did retail actually grow, when you do the hard math, and work to uncover reality; but it was a record ending year for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM). Retail chains using OrderDynamics' systems experienced 41.9% growth in order volumes, comparing the same BFCM period from 2017 vs 2016. This compared well with similar reports across various digital publications espousing similar growth observations. So what started as a seemingly doom & gloom catastrophic year for retail, ended with a roar. That's fine with us!

8. Online Goes Physical

Our last trend that we think is notable for Retail 2017 is the fact that quite a few online retailers opened physical stores during the last year. And not only the pop-up stores as mentioned above. Boll & Branch, Modcloth and Madison Reed are just a couple of e-commerce retailers that opened stores in the past year. Not to even mention Frank and Oak, who started as an ecommerce retailer, then moved to brick and mortar and has now even opened their first Frank and Oak Women physical store.  These retailers have seen the value of offering a truly omnichannel experience.

What do you Think?

Retail 2017 kept everyone hopping and we are sure that 2018 will be just as exciting. A quick thanks to everyone at OrderDynamics that contributed their top notable for 2017.  Do you think we missed any of the noteworthy moments in retail 2017? Let us know on Twitter or LinkedIn. Author: Carla van Deventer is Marketing Co-Ordinator at OrderDynamics. With a background in both corporate communication and events, taking on the retail technology world is her next challenge.       Related:       
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