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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 07 June 2019

Business · 5 min read

AOB: 07 June 2019

Business news with a retail skew this week, as we look at the relationship between physical and digital retail, plus how bricks and mortar stores and e-commerce are learning from, and influencing, each other in the ever-changing world of consumer trade.

Physical apparel sales are down. Really down.

An analysis by Retail Metrics has revealed that apparel retailers’ earnings, as a group, are down 24% for the first quarter of 2019 – all of which are “mall-based retailers experiencing traffic issues,” according to Retail Metrics founder Ken Perkins. The worst figures since November 2008 are being driven by the growing trend in one-stop shopping, the prevalence of discount chain stores, and an array of online options. And the problems, in Perkins' view, are self-inflicted – as companies aren't investing in ways to drive customers to their stores and websites.

CGP president Craig Johnson agrees, stating that the most affected outlets are “classic women’s retailers... The demand for that product is a fraction of what it used to be a generation ago.” He also noted that “It’s not that people are buying fewer clothes, but they’re not going to the same places anymore.” For more on fast fashion, and how to stay ahead of the game, read our guide.

UK's Westfield launches AI-powered pop-up with trending items in physical store

In an effort to bring more people back into stores, Westfield London are letting the internet decide what their latest physical store will sell. Using AI developed by NextAtlas (a company focused on using tech to determine emerging trends), The Trending Store will be restocked each morning with 100 items from throughout the mall – across menswear, womenswear and accessories.

In an effort to stave off the decline in traditional retail, The Trending Store is designed to cater to “the human factor that shopping in person provides – the ability to touch, feel, try and seek advice, to ensure the products are right for you,” says Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer for Westfield. But how is the merchandise chosen? Well, the NextAtlas AI tracks 400,000 of the hottest influencers – which the platform refers to as “trend innovators” – then analyzes what these influencers are wearing, picking 100 items across an array of price ranges it deems to be that day's trending items.

Helping raise funds for Save The Children, its long-term charity partner, The Trending Store highlights how, as consumers change, retailers need to as well – both online and offline. If you'd like to learn more about bespoke fashion, download our guide here.

Meanwhile, Amazon are set to open 10 pop-up shops across the UK

The death of the high street? Maybe just the high street as we knew it before... Partnering with Enterprise Nation – a support organization for SMEs – Amazon are giving 100 small online businesses a physical store presence. As part of a year-long pilot, the online behemoth are taking over retail space abandoned by now-defunct retailers in city centres across the UK. High street debutants will include the likes of Altr for Men, Swifty Scooters and Torro Cases, as shoppers in ten locations around the nation are given a chance to get hands-on with these online-only brands. Doug Gurr, Amazon UK’s country manager, said: “Amazon is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses, helping them boost the economy and create jobs across the UK. Small businesses are one of our most important customer groups.”

Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “Our intention is to help small businesses succeed by combining the best elements of online and high street retail. This new concept will provide small businesses with the space, technology and support to experience physical retail for the first time.” To learn more about how pop-up shops infiltrated the mainstream, read our article.

Two-thirds of Australian shoppers "always" on the lookout for a sale

PayPal Australia have released their mCommerce Index: Trends Report for 2019, and the results make for interesting reading. The company have revealed that 68% of Australian shoppers are always on the lookout for sales online, with 58% having made a purchase simply due to the fact the product was on sale. And it's not just the shoppers who know the value of a good sale – retailers love them too. 53% say they attract new customers, while they increase revenue for 39%, and basket size for 29%.

But where do they shop? Well, unsurprisingly, the majority like to hit the sales online. And, for younger audiences, the balance has also been tipped in favor of mobile – with Gen Y and Gen Z both reporting that they prefer to shop on their phones than on laptops or desktops. Want to find out more about the latest purchasing movement? Look no further than our introduction to m-commerce.

So, how can you attract customers?

It's a broad term, sure, but tech is already proving vital for retailers as they look to grow. Take augmented reality (AR), for example. By 2021, Zion Market Research predicts the industry could be worth US$133 billion, and some companies are already putting it to good use. IKEANike and L'Oréal have already harnessed its power, and they're by no means the only ones. To find out more about how it can be used as a tool to grow your business, head to our guide to AR.

Another innovation that's seeing rapid growth is the chatbot, with new findings from Juniper Research suggesting the global number of successful retail chatbot interactions will reach 22 billion by 2023 – up from just 2.6 million in 2019. Author of the research, Nick Maynard, explained: “By embracing automated customer service with chatbots, retailers can act in a more flexible and efficient way. The wider retail market means that chatbots are no longer a luxury, they are essential.”

However you plan on using tech, there's no denying it's only going to grow – and Zoe Leavitt, Global Market Intelligence Manager at venture capital team ZX Ventures, has this to say: "Retailers can use tech to create unique, exclusive experiences that wouldn’t be replicable online. Tech’s not enough, of course – retailers also need creativity. However, they can use technologies like IoT, AR/VR, machine vision and more to create memorable experiences inside (and outside of) stores."

For more tips on innovation, and how to stay cutting edge, read our article.

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