Five trends that point to a new era for retail

BY Marianne Wilson

Stores that double as classrooms, sensory-rich environments and a rental versus a buy retail model. These are three of the five trends that shopping center developer Westfield believes will shape the future of retailing.

The trends are highlighted in a new report from Westfield, "How We Shop Now: What's Next?," for which the developer interviewed 13,000 shoppers across the United States and United Kingdom along with leading industry experts and trend-spotters.

The five key trends are:

• Rental Retail: With consumers already accustomed to the 'sharing economy' by tapping into Uber for rides, and Airbnb for places to stay, there is a growing appetite for “rental retail.” The trend is particularly strong among millennials, with 35% of 25-34 years olds interested in renting.

In addition, 15% of all U.S. respondents are interested in renting from their favorite stores. And 0ne-fifth of U.S. and U.K. shoppers are willing to spend $200 or more a month on unlimited clothing rental subscriptions.

Ads to what type of goods people most want to rent, exercise equipment topped the list (17%), followed by consumer electronics (15%), furniture (11%) and cars (10%).

• Enhanced Reality Retail: The report predicts that virtual reality will become ubiquitous as shoppers increasingly want this technology to understand how products will work for them specifically.

Forty-two percent of U.S. shoppers said they would like to use new technologies, such as virtual reality headsets, to see how products will look in their home. And a third said they would be interested in using virtual assistance to “try on” clothes at home.

• Classroom Retail: Shoppers are increasingly seeing retail spaces not only as places to purchase goods, but as classrooms where they can learn new skills and build social networks. Thirty-two percent of shoppers are interested in attending a lifestyle lesson at their favorite store.

Shoppers in the U.S. want health or fitness sessions most (29%), followed by inspiring learning sessions such as creative cookery (27%), expert sessions (20%) and then clubs (17%).

Over a fifth of U.S. shoppers in New York (22%), Los Angeles (23%), San Francisco (22%) and San Diego (21%) are interested in sessions involving skills development such as music making.

• Sensory Retail: Shoppers want to overload their senses with extraordinary experiences that re-awaken all of their senses, all at once, according to the report, which is something that Westfield calls “inside-out retail.”

While all five senses were seen as enhancing the shopper experience, vision and touch came out top. But just under a third of shoppers also identified smell and sound.

• Loyalty Programs that Recognize Good Choices: According to the report, there is a growing demand for loyalty programs that not only reward customers for transactions, but also for lifestyle choices. More than a fifth (21%) of U.S. shoppers said they would like to also be rewarded for good choices, including recycling (23%), exercising (23%), spending time with family (20%) eating healthier (16%), and even charity volunteering (11%).

The youngest, 16-24 year olds, were most interested in getting rewards for non-transactional behaviors.

The report is available to download here.


Leave a Reply

D.Girish says:
Feb-18-2016 03:09 am

Interesting read, Marianne. I particularly liked the idea of integrating loyalty programs with lifestyle choices - what a great technique of improving on personalization. I'm sure it will work really well for products that are tied to healthcare - like sport shoes, sport wear etc. With the advent of wearable tech and its popularity among consumers, this is definitely something that brands are going to adopt extensively in near future. One of the technologies that could help with this is iBeacon technology. Particularly because of its ability to tie data together across various channels of interaction. Yet even today, many retailers struggle a lot when it comes to kickstarting their iBeacon project. We have discussed in detail about the 3 critical components of a successful beacon strategy for retailers here:



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