“We’ll see a two-speed sector develop”: Seven retail experts share their 2018 predictions


There was a massive shift in the retail sector, last year, with ecommerce giant Amazon making its long-awaited debut as some of the incumbents continued to see diminishing returns. As the Amazon saga continues to play out, with a question marking hanging over the longer-term impact, we asked seven industry experts to gaze into their crystal balls and share their retail predictions for 2018…

Dan Ross, Managing Director ANZ, Optimizely: “I expect to see more companies pushing the limits of what’s possible within their organisation. Rather than basic website AB testing as so many organisations have relied upon to date, I see more and more companies utilising data from around their firm to improve on their customer experience and internal operations. Basically saying ‘we have all this data, why aren’t we using it?’

“Retail will be the most experimental sector in 2018. The CX bar is already being raised and with Amazon coming in full force, that trend will only accelerate. There will be a chasm created between the firms that choose to experiment, innovate, and compete vs those that choose the status quo.”

Georgina Nelson, Founder & CEO, TruRating: “Customer experience will continue to drive innovation and improvement within the retail sector in 2018. Those companies that focus on providing the best customer experience, including a great range of products and excellent customer service will see their share of the market increase, whilst those that don’t innovate will find their presence diminish.

“At TruRating, we’ve found that retail customers who are impressed by their overall in-store experience spend a whopping 43% more (on average) than those who are disappointed. Innovation is the key to any businesses long term sustainability, and without insights into what needs improving, companies are in danger of taking their customers for granted.”

Sven Lindell, CMO, Temple & Webster: “Image search and product search by image is something I see getting bigger and bigger next year. As Google gets smarter around image recognition this will be something we’ll see e-commerce embracing. Similarly, continued advancements in augmented reality and visual-based digital shopping experiences will be something we’ll see more and more of as these technologies become more easily accessible and more a part of customer’s shopping experiences across the industry.

“How retailers react to the arrival of Amazon is going to be interesting to watch. I think retailers will have a definite approach – either they will be pro-Amazon and looking to embrace how it can benefit their businesses, or they will be completely anti-Amazon.  Seeing how these approaches play out for individual players will be something to keep an eye on.  It will also be interesting to see whether Amazon ultimately helps boost the industry or whether it has a negative impact.”

Adam Schwab, Managing Director, Luxury Escapes: “A key continuing trend in 2018 will be the move towards greater personalisation – Australian eCommerce retailers have previously been able to rely on largely unsophisticated targeting, rather than algorithmic based relevance targeting based on customer preferences. Travel retailers will also continue to evolve to meet the dynamic needs of the consumer, including higher levels of customer service, greater product range and a tailored mobile experience all being key areas for improvement in 2018 as the travel sector evolves in a similar way to the retail industry.”

Kate Morris, Founder & CEO, Adore Beauty: “Rather than the greatly-exaggerated ‘death of retail’ some predict in 2018, we’ll see a two-speed sector develop.  Faster, more innovative, customer-centric retailers will thrive at the expense of slower, traditional retailers. Customer expectations around speed of delivery will continue to increase, with retailers who can’t deliver within 48 hours likely to find their customers voting with their wallets. For this reason, we have upgraded our basic delivery option to Express Post.”

Gabby Leibovich, Co-founder, Catch Group: “2018 will be the year of collaborations between players aiming at strengthening their core offerings as well as widening their reach, such as our recent collaboration between Catch Group and Lux Group of 2017, and our deal with Menulog in 2016.

“The arrival of Amazon has changed the local playing field, and now the excitement of Christmas sales has faded, all retailers will be asking themselves the question: what’s next? I see 2018 as a continuation of these forward-thinking collaborations. I also expect other overseas players to join Australia’s very attractive market, most likely through collaborations with Australian retailers already here.”

Simon Banks, APAC Managing Director, Hyperwallet: “Local online retailers will continue to scale their mobile/online experience and traffic to a marketplace model. As a result, retailers will need to attract and retain a growing roster of global sellers with unique product offerings curated for their consumers. Retailers will need to focus on how to onboard, validate and pay sellers from diverse counties around the globe.”

 

Related: Let’s Talk…EcommerceIf you can’t beat them, join them: how SMEs can begin taking advantage of Amazon Australia and Focus on what you can ‘uniquely own’ on Amazon, BigCommerce CEO tells e-tailers.