Each year, new trends and developments impact the retail industry. Whether you have an online business, a retail business, or both, it’s important to know what retail trends you can expect in 2023 so you can prepare accordingly and brace yourself for any major changes. Let’s break down the five most likely retail trends you should anticipate and know about for 2023 and beyond.
eCommerce Will Become More Important
The eCommerce industry has seen massive growth over the last two years. In 2023, this trend will likely continue, if not accelerate even further.
Why? Because technology has made it much easier not only for people to start online businesses but for customers to take advantage of those enterprises. At the time of this writing, there are between 12 and 24 million eCommerce stores worldwide, and over 58% of internet users make a purchase online at least once a week.
All this indicates that eCommerce will only become more important in 2023. If your brand doesn’t already have an online storefront, even just a simple one to allow customers to order products you offer at your retail store, it needs to get one ASAP.
eCommerce shopping is popular due to its convenience, fast shipping, and customer comparisons. If you don’t already have a business, you might consider starting an eCommerce brand of your own. The right eCommerce business could be an excellent source of passive income or the ideal way to launch an entrepreneurial project.
Safety Is Key to Consumers
Perhaps given the increased popularity of eCommerce shopping, it’s no surprise that most consumers have cybersecurity and fraud prevention at the forefront of their minds. Because people have become more aware of malware, ransomware, and other digital attacks, they now know what to look for to determine whether an online store is secure.
If you have a digital storefront or plan to build one, you’ll need to ensure that safety is a top priority. That’s because:
- Retail is one of the most targeted industries by ransomware. In 2021, retail organizations saw a 75% increase in cyberattacks compared to the year before.
- Your customers will be less likely to make purchases at your online store if they don’t feel that their personal information is kept safe.
With this in mind, you’ll need to undertake several measures if you haven’t already, such as implementing SSL certifications for your website, hiring cybersecurity experts or managed services, and maintaining good cybersecurity practices at your organization.
Retailers are not the only victims of cybercrime either, with third-party vendors and suppliers also becoming targets of malware and ransomware attacks. Before partnering with a vendor that offers net-30 payment terms for their goods or services, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company that has strong security measures in place as well.
The cost of losing key customer data or your defenses being breached is quite high, particularly in light of legislation like the GDPR and CCPA. Organizations like yours can get into massive trouble if they don’t take proper steps to protect customer data. You could face fines, the loss of consumer trust, and other penalties that can quickly make running your business difficult.
Bottom line: cybersecurity is likely to be a paramount concern throughout 2023 and in the years to come.
Self-Service Checkout Flexibility
One of the biggest benefits of eCommerce shopping is convenience. In 2023 and beyond, more customers than ever will demand the flexibility and convenience of a self-service checkout.
Fast, efficient, and user-controlled checkout services are now present in retail stores and have become an important part of digital shops. If you have a retail storefront, you might consider implementing self-service checkout kiosks or stations at the earliest opportunity.
Not only will this make your customers happy, but it will also provide your brand with many important benefits. For instance, if you implement self-service checkout kiosks, you don’t need to hire as many cashiers, allowing you to save money on labor or pay your existing employees more money (which increases employee satisfaction in turn).
In addition, self-service checkout kiosks or stations let you save valuable retail store space for other things, like offices, more store shelves, etc.
All in all, self-service checkout will probably become more popular in retail stores across industries in 2023. Customers like to be able to ring up their items. It makes them feel like they are more in control and, in many cases, even shortens the time customers have to wait to finish their purchases.
Customer service is an important element of good business, but it can become difficult as you scale your enterprise and acquire new customers. Many companies have taken to using chatbots: automated and computer-controlled widgets that rely on AI and machine learning to respond to customer queries, direct customers to human agents, and perform other vital CS tasks.
The retail industry will likely see much more chatbot implementation as chatbots can be very helpful for small and large companies by:
- Answering basic questions or FAQs for customers
- Directing customers to knowledge bases, tutorial articles, or other helpful resources
- Funneling customers to the right customer service agents based on their initial queries and other information
- Assist with the post-purchase experience, etc.
In a business sense, chatbots are valuable because they save money on customer service agents. With a few quality chatbots running on your website, you won’t have to spend nearly as much money on actual human CS agents.
In addition, good chatbots provide the same or better level of customer service as human CS agents. This way, your customers will be consistently satisfied and walk away from interactions with your brand with a good feeling. That’ll boost word-of-mouth and your reputation, plus help your business thrive in this competitive market.
Booking Appointments In-Store
Lastly, 2023 will likely bring much more in-store appointment booking. “Appointment shopping” allows customers to book time in your retail store to browse products, see them in person, and ask questions of your customer sales representatives.
As an omnichannel retail sales strategy, it’s very effective because it lets you differentiate your company from competitors and gives your customers “white glove” service experiences. Customers feel tailored to and treated properly, making them more likely to come back and make more purchases
Many brands already allow consumers to book in-store shopping experiences using eCommerce websites attached to specific retailers. When they arrive at stores in person, they are treated like special guests and allowed to browse, test, and ask questions about products with the assistance of a knowledgeable sales rep.
Of course, this new trend is more common with high-priced or luxury items, like Tesla cars and similar products. However, many stores that require customers to make large one-time or repeat purchases could probably benefit from this sales strategy.
You can add this feature to your online store if it doesn’t offer it already. Try to find a comprehensive software solution that includes scheduling, automatic appointment reminders, invoicing, CRM, and other features (look for invoice templates with automatic billing features, too).
The future holds many mysteries. But in 2023, the above five trends will likely become important in one form or another. It’s a good idea to prepare your business for machine learning developments like chatbots, an increased focus on user security, and the greater importance of eCommerce overall. Keep these trends in mind, and you’ll be well-positioned to maximize your profits next year.
See also: Talking Points: How the Buy Now, Pay Later Model Can Help You Grow Your Business