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The Future of Retail: Trends for 2019

Jennifer Post
Jennifer Post

There are many facets of the retail industry. You have shoppers, products and the retailers themselves, all of which have their own trends and ways of marketing. In 2017 and 2018, customers craved a more personalized shopping experience, which led to targeted products for specific audiences. Retailers also used advanced technology, like smart dressing rooms. 2019 will bring a new set of trends to help guide shoppers and retailers alike. Here are a few.

A shift toward discovery shopping

"In the early days of e-commerce, it was all about search-based shopping for specific commodity products: diapers, pet goods, etc.," said Lori Twomey, senior vice president and chief merchant at Zulily. "Now, shoppers are looking for more engaging, curated experiences. They come to retailers like Zulily for entertainment, a break in the day – what we call 'the third way to shop' – beyond transactional e-commerce or traditional brick-and-mortar stores, and instead focus on curation, relationship-building and fun."  

The proliferation of value-driven retail

Twomey noted that entertaining experiences are no longer enough for the modern shopper. The shoppers of today are savvier and on the lookout for the best deal possible.

"According to the NRF, 89 percent of consumers say they shop at bargain retailers," Twomey added. "And when you look at who's in search of a great deal, it's younger consumers: 1 in 3 millennials are value-driven shoppers, and 93 percent of Gen Z shoppers shop bargain retail."

Increased importance of mobile content

Mobile devices have become a crucial material for shopping. You can look up coupons on the spot, check weekly ads and compare prices while you're in the store.

"Eighty-five percent of teens say they use YouTube, while 72 percent say they use Instagram – and they're online a lot," Twomey told Business News Daily. "Forty-five percent of teens now say they're online on a 'near-constant basis.'"

Because of this, she said, retailers must ensure mobile experiences are entertaining yet simple.

More dependence on data-driven insights

Data analytics inform every aspect of a business, particularly marketing.

"By leveraging data science and machine learning, retailers can now mine real-time data to infer incredibly sophisticated insights into what current and potential customers will respond to at a one-to-one basis," Twomey said. "At Zulily, we believe that by better understanding customers, we can better serve them."

Shift from driving transactions to building long-term relationships

Doing business is all about building lasting relationships with clients and customers. In 2019 especially, brands must invest more time and energy in their consumers.

"[This] investment is twofold: They're leveraging sophisticated measurement and attribution methods to attract and retain customers, while constantly recalibrating their methods to build awareness of their platforms, driving consideration of their brands and driving purchases over time," Twomey said.

In addition, Twomey said that it is no longer enough to get a customer through the door for an annual sale. The goal is to create lifetime customers who shop with you, whether you are having a sale or not.


This is especially current within the fashion industry. "In fashion, there has long been a complaint about sizing charts that always run small and cater to the 'model' types, as well as brand ads and marketing campaigns that don't represent diverse body types," said Ronen Luzon, CEO and founder of MySize.

Luzon added that inclusion in fashion products and marketing is critical, as two-thirds of American women are size 14 and up.

Personalized online shopping experience

Shoppers still crave customized experiences, thanks to algorithms that help sites like Netflix suggest movies for you based on ones you've already watched and help Facebook provide ads to you based on products you like.

"The same now applies to shopping – consumers expect every digital experience to be customized for them," said Twomey.

Luzon also believes that shopping should be personalized. "Online shopping used to be purely about convenience for the consumer, who wanted to be able to buy anything, anytime, from anywhere. Now, though, consumers are seeking out a more personal experience when shopping online, especially when it comes to apparel. As such, consumers are trending toward brands and retailers that utilize technology solutions to make online shopping feel more like the in-store experience."

Given that most devices are now enabled for commerce, the ways consumers interact with their smart devices are changing, according to Linda Kirkpatrick, executive vice president of merchants and acceptance at Mastercard. Commerce features include payment-enabled key fobs and wearable devices that allow you not only to monitor your fitness, but to pay when and how you want.

"It's more important than ever to personalize, customize and digitize consumers' experiences,” Kirkpatrick said.

Omnichannel payments

Consumers will be able to choose to pay by phone, in an app, through a browser or in the store.

"Retailers will be expected to give consumers the ability to pay when and where they want – with the device of their choice – while also providing a frictionless and secure checkout option," said Kirkpatrick. "We'll also see an increase in people leveraging their connected devices to spend, using their watch, jewelry or other electronics to make purchases.”

A lot can change in a year, especially with an industry as driven by technology as the retail industry. In 2019, consumers will continue the move toward a connected and digital lifestyle, creating a demand for retailers to move in that same direction, said Kirkpatrick.

"Brick-and-mortar retail is still important to consumers," she said. "Redesigning the physical store to make the shopping experience as digitally savvy as the shopper itself is critical to the future of retail."

Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Jennifer Post
Jennifer Post,
Business News Daily Writer
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, New Jersey, or binge-watching "Pretty Little Liars" for the 700th time.