1) We couldn't wait 2 days anymore.
For most major cities in the U.S., gone are the days of waiting 2 days for your products to arrive to your house. Consumers now have the option to have their products delivered to their door in as little as an hour. Amazon Prime Now, Instacart, and Target all have these options and there's a race as to who can provide the biggest assortment at the fastest shipping speed.
2) It's official: Black Friday is no long on Friday.
Remember the days of opening up your newspaper on Thanksgiving and looking through all the Black Friday ad flyers? With most major retailers open on Thanksgiving Day and many of the deals available online, shoppers no longer have to wait for hours in the cold or face a mob going through the doors. Some retailers, like REI, are still holding out though giving their employees Thanksgiving off.
3) Walmart buys Jet.com
In a move to compete directly with Amazon, Walmart put up over $3 billion to buy this online marketplace and build out their infrastructure for domination in-store and online.
4) Uber starts testing driverless cars
Although, not directly related to retail, the ramifications on the retail supply chain could be huge.
5) We may see the end of the check-out lane
Amazon unveiled a grocery store without lines or checkout counters. Amazon Go, a 1800-square-foot retail space located in the company’s hometown of Seattle, lets shoppers just grab the items they want and leave; the order gets charged to their Amazon account afterwards. Amazon Go works by using computer vision and sensors to detect what items you’re taking out of the store. You start by scanning an app as you enter the Amazon Go shop. You do your normal shopping, and the sensors throughout the store identify the items in your cart and charge them to your account when you walk out the door. It’ll feel like shoplifting, except you’re actually being watched by more cameras than you can imagine.
6) Brick and Mortar make a comeback - if they use tech to cater to actual humans
A few years ago, it was doom and gloom for retailers who were seeing the cannibalization of sales from e-commerce. Retailers who focused on the in-store experience with a personalized approach using data are seeing same store sales increases. The answer seems to be by delivering great customer experiences at every touch point that are highly personalized and based on relevant data.
7) Retailers got political
2016 was a highly charged political year and Target took a stand against North Carolina’s transphobic bathroom bill, saying its customers and employees can use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
The company announced the policy on its corporate website, saying, “Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate.” Other companies such as American Airlines, Bayer, Paypal, Google, the NCAA, and Dow, all took similar stances to the law.
8) Korean beauty explodes in the US market
Korean beauty has exploded in the US market outpacing other Korean imports like automobile and tech. Companies like Memebox have raised over $100 mil! 88% of their global sales are completed via mobile device. If you want a crystal ball into next year’s popular American beauty trends, look to the South Korean beauty industry. This year, American beauty companies like Lancôme, L’Oréal Paris, M.A.C Cosmetics, and Clinique have all moved to launch their own versions. Retailers who wait to hop on this trend may be left in the dust.