by Dave Hanson

Some will fly and some will flop, but here are some retail trends to keep an eye on this year.

Pop-up Stores — Millennials enjoy discovering new store experiences. As more stores close, there will continue to be an excess supply of retail space making landlords more flexible and open to offering short-term rental deals – which is needed to make pop-up stores a viable option.

Stores within Stores — Best Buy has perfected this concept with significant floor space in every store dedicated to brands like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. For the manufacturer, it’s an opportunity to get more involved in creating merchandising design and participate in the customer shopping experience.

Pop-ups within a Store — Nordstrom takes it one step further with “Pop-In@Nordstrom,” a themed shopping experience that allows customers to shop new and exclusive merchandise from their favorite brands. E.g. Sleep-In@Nordstrom features Casper mattress products plus an assortment of home and wellness essentials including skincare, accessories, pajamas and restful technology.

Social Shopping — Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram are making it easier to shop directly from these sites as brands can now allow users to buy products directly from a post.

Creative In-Store Experiences — To attract customers, retailers are enhancing spaces inside stores – some even good enough to trigger in-store selfies. E.g. Some Timberland stores features a 3,500 sq. ft. space decked with Birch trees, hanging plants, and moss.

Cross-Merchandising — Not a new idea (think S’mores end-aisle display at your grocery store), cross-merchandising has quietly exploded online as the digital platform is a perfect venue for easily showing “customers also purchased” and bundle promotion offers. X merch is more challenging to implement at the physical store level, but the boost in incremental profits can make it well worth the effort. You may even start seeing messaging in-store that you see online such as, “If you like this, you may like this.”

Digital Displays — Kohl’s has mastered the use of digital price displays in their stores. Kroger’s new shelving system uses digital displays to indicate prices, promotions, nutritional and dietary information. Kroger can also generate new revenue by selling digital ad space on the displays.

Blockchain — Gaining maximum efficiency within the supply and distribution chain is crucial to successful category management. Blockchain technology may provide a reliable platform for managing and tracking shipments while reducing fraud, paperwork and delays.

QR Code comeback?

QR (Quick Response) codes were all the rage back in 2010, but never gained much consumer acceptance and quickly faded. But they’re now very popular in China and they’re starting to make a comeback in America, thanks to Snapchat.

Snapchat created their own version (known as Snapcodes with the ghost outline) and integrated them into their app. It allows users to share their account with other Snapchat users by hovering their cameras over their Snapcode. Snap says users are scanning 8 million codes a day.

Apple must see something as they recently added a QR code reader right within the cameras of their newer iPhones, removing the need for users to download any extra apps. Some retailers are taking advantage of the QR codes for payment convenience. Target recently added a QR code-based payment system allowing shoppers to scan the code at checkout for instant payments.

Looks like everything is on the table for 2019. Cutting edge and older technologies. New and not-so-new merchandising methods. It should be an interesting year. Stay tuned.

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