6 retail & wholesale trends from the first six months of 2016

19 May 2016 | BlueBridge One

It’s hard to believe it, but very shortly we’ll be reaching the mid-point of the year. Although it’s flown by, a lot has happened in the retail and wholesale industry – and here are six key trends that have hallmarked the first six months of 2016.

1. Bricks-and-mortar is back!

Technically, the store never went away, as the majority of purchases are still made through physical channels. However, the popularity of being able to see, try and touch items before buying has seen many online pure plays making their first foray into bricks-and-mortar experiences.

Amazon is the biggest player to explore physical channels in 2016, with Boden and Streetcasuals among the other pure plays that have followed suit.

2. The omnichannel emphasis has shifted

In fact, we’re not even talking about omnichannel anymore; leading analysts prefer to refer to it as total retail.

Whatever you call it, connecting experiences across channels has been a theoretical and strategic discussion for most businesses until recently. However, now we’re seeing retailers putting their money where their mouth is and creating experiences that deliver on their omnichannel promise.

3. Loyalty is no longer a numbers game

If there was one defining shift in shopper behaviour for the year to date, it’s a move away from price-driven loyalty to a more enriching experience.

Consumers have now come to expect value for money and pricing transparency, especially as price comparison websites go from strength to strength. Now they want retailers to add value in different ways – whether that’s making their interactions more convenient, or creating individual offers to make them feel special.

4. Customer relationships are getting deeper

It’s not just B2C sales that are seeking ways to engender more profitable, longer lasting customer relationships; wholesale distribution companies are also putting greater emphasis on client retention.

This fits into a wider trend of providing consumer-influenced user experiences, particularly online. ‘Being B2B’ is no longer an excuse for being behind the curve.

5. The Internet of Things is gathering momentum

According to Gartner, 6.4 billion connected things will be in use in 2016, and this is beginning to affect the retail and wholesale industries.

In the retail environment, we’re seeing systems like Amazon Echo completely redefine how we order goods, while Nespresso is leading the way for brands with its connected coffee machine. Wholesale distribution companies are also getting in on the act, investigating IoT and M2M as a means of streamlining their supply chain.

6. Even big name brands aren’t safe

From BHS to Whistles, there have been some big name casualties going into administration in the first part of the year.

This underlines that no business can afford to rest on its laurels – productivity and innovation are fundamental in this ‘adapt to survive’ era. However, some brands have been rescued from the jaws of collapse, for example there’s been some significant investment by South African retail groups, including Foschini. It will be interesting to see how they embrace their new lease of life over the next six months.

Embrace the future with BlueBridge One

One thing is certain: retail is never going to stand still, and that means retail and wholesale distribution businesses must be agile, in order to grow.

BlueBridge One’s multichannel solutions have been specifically designed to help B2B and B2C companies gain a competitive edge in an ever evolving market place.

Want more trends? Download our whitepaper: 5 trends disrupting the wholesale distribution model.

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