From apps to politics, 2015 was a whirlwind of events affecting the retail industry
We are fast approaching the end of the first quarter of 2016, and the year is moving by so fast it seems like we haven’t had time to properly evaluate 2015. So we thought it a good time to take a quick look back at what retailers learned from 2015 and examine what to expect in 2016.
Millennials making their mark
If you want to know what’s going to happen, what the trends are, or where the change is, keep an eye on those 20-something millennials. Economically, they are a powerful group, and more importantly they set trends, even if it’s more by accident than design. Millennials are often where retailers look first for the change in consumer behaviour. They might think they are hipper, cooler and more intelligent than they really are, but any retailer who ignores this demographic in 2016 will do so at their peril.
Online retail still growing
It’s hardly a new concept but still worth mentioning. Anyone who works in an office environment and witnesses the amount of deliveries on any given day will understand the power of buying online. These days it’s not so much about the feet through your retail store door as it is about goods out the warehouse gate. It’s cheaper, as there are less overheads and middlemen, more convenient, and if you are not happy, delivery people will fetch your product and the company will refund you. Online retail is still growing at an exponential rate, particularly in South Africa, which traditionally is always playing catch up with the modern world, read The USA and Europe. At home, Takealot is dominating the local market, both with their brand and excellent service delivery.
Recent reports on South Africa have predicted that this might be the year that e-commerce really takes off; it currently makes up a tiny percentage of the overall retail spend in the country and the potential for growth is huge!
Those brands that keep things simple, even though they may be huge companies, like Nike, Apple and Samsung, are still running the show. The smaller brands with big ideas and loads of ambition, who try to overdo their logos and include complex mottos or payoff lines won’t really compete. 2015 proved that Millennials hate complications. So if you are planning on world domination, keep it simple.
Apps, apps and more apps. Develop a useful app and buyers will come running. From Uber to The Entertainer, to Starbucks and Ikea, if you “ain’t apping it ain’t happening”. In 2016, retailers will need to engage with their customers, offering added value and making life more convenient and fun.
Politics and retail
Politics will undoubtedly play a big part in the local retail world this year, although it may actually benefit local manufacturers and retailers who sell local goods. President Zuma’s shenanigans of 2015 sent the rand into freefall, making imports considerately more expensive and local goods more attractive price-wise.
Politics always has, and always will, have an effect on the retail market, and so far 2016 does not seem to be much different from last year. Some people will turn to retail for comfort, but political instability is generally never good for business.
If you are a retailer, you want to make sure that you have the best software and hardware to manage your business efficiently. You want to deal with professionals who have the knowledge and experience to supply you with the best products, service and advice. You also need to keep your eye on ever-changing trends, and make sure that you use the right technology that benefits both your customers and your business.