Last year proved transformational for retailers, and 2018 might be even more so.
That’s the view from AlixPartners, the global consulting firm serving many industries, which on Wednesday issued a report on what it considers the top 10 retail trends for 2018.
Here they are:
1: After shuttering 7,000 stores last year, as many stores — and probably more — will close in 2018.
2: Rising costs stemming from inflation, labor costs, omnichannel investments and price pressure from Amazon and off-price stores threaten to “crush” margins. But the “boldest” retailers will turn to automation and outsourcing to reduce costs and boost profits.
3: Speedy retailers get even speedier. “We expect many retailers (including established ones) to cut down product development time by as much as 75 percent this year.…Retailers used to take a full year to bring a product to market. Now some retailers — not just fast fashion — are doing it in 10 weeks.”
4: Inventory reduction. “A faster product development cycle means retailers won’t be hoarding inventory and then selling it at deep discounts. Instead, they will shift from buying in bulk each season to buying more often in small quantities, and eventually move away from a seasonal calendar.
5: Renting products, instead of buying them, gains in popularity.
6: Resourceful use of real estate, including using vacant retail real estate to handle e-commerce delivery, and making investments in warehouse automation.
7: Increasing partnering with digital start-ups as a solution for outmoded and old systems.
8: More brands joining the Amazon marketplace “after playing hard-to-get for years.”
9: Retailers will step up efforts to personalize the experience, including greater use of chatbots.
10: Savvy retailers will come up with new reasons for people to visit their stores, including in-store entertainment and special services.