What will be the big retail trends in 2018?

Technology is not only changing the way consumers live their lives, it is also impacting how they shop. Rupal Karia (pictured), Fujitsu’s managing director of the commercial sector, UK and Ireland, shares his predictions for the biggest trends in retail in 2018.

  • Collaboration We have already seen a lot of collaboration in 2017, and we expect to see even more next year. Most recently Tesco has announced its new partnership with Next. We will also see more consolidation of companies in the form of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Mobile Mobile will continue to be a key driver of traffic, sales and engagement for retailers next year. This year we saw the majority of hits on Black Friday coming from mobile, and this is only going to become more widespread. With the latest phones getting bigger and better screens, mobile will become the one route to market.
  • Supply chains The supply chain will be affected by many factors next year. To begin with, driverless and robotics will dramatically change the retail supply chain. We will see more pilot schemes where retailers and manufacturers use driverless and robotic technologies, which will alter the delivery process for components and products, and as a result will affect and speed up retailers’ routes to market.
    From the manufacturing side of the supply chain, we expect it to become a lot more technologically advanced and smart.
  • AI Artificial Intelligence has been the ultimate buzzword of 2017 and is here to stay. In retail it is already happening without consumers even realising. Webchats, for instance with a brand or retailer, use AI to respond to questions. As AI becomes more advanced, these webchats will only become more sophisticated.
  • Security – Attacks, as we have seen, can destroy a brand and we have seen that they can have significant financial and reputational impacts. Attacks can stop trading, which for a retailer can be disastrous. In the coming year retailers will need to ensure that their cyber security defences are a top priority in order to both prevent an attack, or mitigate and reduce the damage should one befoul them. If consumers are prevented from making a purchase due to systems being shut down, they will shop elsewhere and the retailer will lose the customer as a result.
  • Payments – Payments will be a hot topic for retailers next year, as we have seen contactless truly take off this year and we will continue to see it evolve.

  • Personalisation Personalisation and customer centricity are going to be increasingly more important next year, as the landscape becomes ever more competitive. Thanks to the advancement of AI and CRM (customer relationship management) systems it is now the easiest it has ever been for retailers to know their customers from the moment they walk through the door, click online or swipe with their mobile. Over the next year we expect to see retailers finally using these tools to better their customers’ experience as they will now have the insight into their shoppers that they were previously missing.  
  • Voice ordering Amazon and Apple have changed the way we interact with our devices through Alexa and Siri, and as we move into self-learning voice assistants we anticipate that this medium will truly take off and become a part of our everyday lives. We have already seen a few retailers this year take steps towards voice ordering – Tesco teaming up with Google Home was one of the first. Over the year, we expect more retailers and brands teaming up with voice-assistants to offer customers a new and interactive way of shopping.