Disruptive innovation has the potential to change the way brands do business. The retail space has undergone several disruptions since the turn of the millennium. Online shopping and evolving consumer expectations have led to many shifting paradigms and retailers need to stay aware of these trends to remain competitive.
Here are five retail disruptions to track in 2019:
1. Try-at-home clothing retailers
In recent years, there has been an influx of clothing brands that offer try-at-home services to online shoppers. Brands like Stitch Fix give shoppers the opportunity to browse apparel online, fill a box with potential purchases and then try the items from the comfort of home. Shoppers can send back any items that don't fit or aren't a great style match. Shoppers who keep everything in their box receive a discount of up to 25 percent on their entire purchase.
2. Merging hospitality with retail
To stay competitive in shifting markets, some retail brands have extended their service offerings to include food and lodging. For example, Williams Sonoma plans to open its own chain of hotels, according to NASDAQ. The hotels will feature furniture from the Williams Sonoma brand. In another direction, Urban Outfitters plans to open a pizza cafe in Palo Alto, offering shoppers a chance to slow down and enjoy meal during their shopping trip.
3. Online 'megamarketplaces'
Everyone is likely familiar with online megamarketplace Amazon, but it is not the only large-scale disrupter changing the way people shop online. In Asia, the site Alibaba gives shoppers access to almost everything they could ever want. From clothing and appliances to snacks and produce, there's little Alibaba doesn't offer. The brand has been slowly moving into western markets, giving shoppers in America a chance to purchase low-priced products directly from manufacturers in Asia. Convenience and cost savings are the two biggest drivers of growth in this space.
4. Unique shopping experiences
To compete with online-only brands, brick-and-mortar retailers are looking for ways to offer shoppers a unique in-store experience. One of the biggest advantages physical stores have over ecommerce sites is the ability for shoppers to touch and experience products first-hand. Footwear brand Allbirds recently added a human-sized hamster wheel to their store so shoppers can try out a pair of running shoes before making a purchasing decision. Many brands have added other multi-sensory sensory experiences such as scent systems to further enhance the shopping experience.
5. AI-powered personalization
Personalization is a major disrupter across many industries. In the retail space, some brands have begun to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions to leverage user data to find new personalization opportunities. For example, ecommerce brands can keep track of shopper color and style preferences to suggest new items to returning visitors.
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