Top 10 Retail Trends in 2023

Top 10 Retail Trends in 2023

The last several years have been a wild ride for the physical retail industry. Brick-and-mortar stores are facing an uphill battle as the world continues to place more faith and attention on digital shopping experiences. But while it may be more difficult to succeed with a physical retail store in 2023, it’s not impossible. The key? Paying attention to shifting retail trends and understanding when it’s time to change with the times. 

Here’s the deal. Consumers are looking for a specific shopping experience when they leave the house — something that makes them want to give up on the convenience of shopping from their couches and venture into the real world. Unfortunately, if you’re a business owner who thinks staying the course is best, you could see your dreams go up in smoke. A business needs to adapt to its audience. The wants and needs of that audience are constantly shifting as the world barrels into the future. A new year has just started, and with it comes a wealth of new trends to watch out for. If your business will survive 2023, you’ll need to know what your audience expects and implement those changes into your business model. 

In this article, we’re counting down the ten biggest retail trends that brick-and-mortar stores should pay attention to in 2023. Ready to learn more?

Let’s begin!

1. Self Service Checkout Options

If you’re going to compete with the ultra convenience of ecommerce, you’ll need to make the in-person shopping experience a lot more convenient. Nothing makes customers long for the ease of online shopping more than massive checkout lines when trying to leave a store. That’s why self-service checkout has become such a huge trend in the retail industry. We’re starting to see major clothing retailers, supermarkets, and even small mom-and-pop gas stations implementing this technology.

There are different ways you can bring the ease and convenience of self-service checkout to your store. The simplest and most common way is self-checkout kiosks, like those implemented by Walmart, Target, and other massive retailers. Here, the customer takes on the role of a checkout attendant, scanning all of their items at a mini register and making their payment. But oftentimes, these systems are confusing for customers, and large lines form anyway. While it saves you on payroll, there are a few other high-tech options you can look into. 

For instance, the ceiling camera approach is part of the “Just Walk Out” technology that huge retailers like Amazon use at their physical stores. A series of ceiling cameras and shelf sensors monitor inventory, taking stock of everything a customer puts in their cart. Then, the customer simply walks out of the store with their items, and their linked payment method charges automatically. By implementing a system like this, customers will never have to wait in line again. Then you’ve got smart carts and smart counters, where customers place their items in a cart or on a counter to scan them. 

There’s no looking around for barcodes whatsoever. This creates a simple self-checkout experience. You also don’t have to purchase all new carts for your store when implementing smart carts. Clip-on devices can easily turn any cart into a smart cart.

Finally, there’s an app self-checkout experience, like the one Disney is rolling out throughout its retail locations. With this feature, customers scan their items through an app and pay using an attached payment method. They’re then given a QR code which an attendant scans before leaving. Once the attendant has confirmed each item, the customer is good to go. 

Pro Tip: When using this method, it’s important to have several attendants to prevent a long queue from forming.

2. Elevated Retail Experiences

Elevated experiences will be crucial for businesses as we move into 2022. Customers want these experiences, and if they can’t get them from you, they’ll go where they can. One of these elevated experiences is appointment shopping. This is something that came into prominence during the Covid pandemic and has stuck around in its aftermath. Appointment shopping is exactly what it sounds like: It’s when customers set an appointment to come into your store and shop. The beauty of appointment shopping is that it allows customers to select a time when the store won’t be overly crowded and build a meaningful personal relationship with your business. 

There are two different kinds of appointment shopping:

  • Solo appointments allow customers to browse as normal when there aren’t many people around.
  • Itinerary appointments are structured and usually revolve around a specific event or purpose. A great example of this would be product demonstrations and education events that you hold in-store.  

Of course, you shouldn’t create an all-appointment business model. You need to encourage walk-in traffic as well. But set aside specific times for appointment customers and start cultivating those relationships. It’s also essential to integrate more technology into your shopping experience. This could include innovations like allowing customers to create a profile that tracks their buying habits to create a more personalized shopping experience. You can also send push notifications to customer devices, letting them know about various personalized deals when they enter your store. 

Grocery Store Cupertino CA

3. Omnichannel Shopping

Customers in 2023 demand an omnichannel retail experience. That means your physical store needs to work off the same information as your website and app, creating a seamless hybrid experience from one location to the next. For instance, some shoppers will want to check your inventory online to know for sure that you have an item in stock before heading to your location. That’s why it’s essential to connect your brick-and-mortar inventory system to your online platforms. Some customers want to make their purchases online and pick them up in-store, later. That means you’ll need to offer fulfillment services. In other words, when a customer orders an item using your app and selects a “pick up in store” option, you’ll need a designated place for them to go once they arrive.

Some businesses have a fulfillment counter, usually in a central location within the store that’s easy to find. Others, like Best Buy, have fulfillment lockers where customers can scan a mobile code and pick up their items from a locker within the store. In the past, it was enough to simply offer a multichannel marketing experience. That was when a business offered multiple platforms like a website, app, and physical location, but they weren’t connected. What you did on the app couldn’t be applied to anything in-store, and vice versa. But in 2023, that’s not going to cut it any longer. And that brings us to …

4. Same-Day Delivery

In 2023, online shoppers no longer want to wait for their items. The days of products taking two, three, or even five days to ship are over, and they aren’t coming back. Modern consumers want everything right away, meaning if your business wants to stay relevant and profitable, you need to offer same-day and next-day delivery options. Companies like Walmart offer this service, allowing customers to purchase anything from groceries to clothing and choose a time to receive their items that day. But these items aren’t coming from a fulfillment center. They’re coming right from physical retail locations. 

Instead of being sent out via USPS, these items are delivered by couriers directly from the retail location to the customer’s door. If the customer orders something that isn’t in stock, the system can recommend replacement items before the delivery window closes. Walmart’s app learns the buying habits of these delivery customers and often makes suggestions or alerts them when items they’re interested in come in stock or go on sale.

While we want to draw customers into our retail locations, we can offer a similar experience by allowing them to purchase from our physcial brick-and-mortar stores, online. Then, an in-store representative can deliver the items to them same-day or next-day, depending on store hours and availability.

5. Focus on Sustainable Brands

Back in the day, companies could market any product they wanted, even if the businesses that manufactured those products were involved in less-than-friendly environmental practices. Those days are long since over. 

We now live in the information age, where any question can be answered instantaneously. That means people are starting to research the products they’re interested in. They can find out the environmental impact these products have and what brand message the manufacturers put out. Everything from EPA reports to tweets from CEOs can be discovered. As more millennials and Gen-Z shoppers flood the market, these sustainability considerations are becoming a huge part of the buying process. That’s why you have to think about the products you’re offering. 

Ask questions like …How are they manufactured? Are the companies creating them using sweatshop labor and skirting environmental mandates, or are they created using sustainable and morally honorable practices? 

As of the fourth quarter of 2022, 77% of consumers stated that sustainability is an important factor influencing their buying decisions. In 2021, that number was only 69%. When speaking on the importance of sustainability, 44% of consumers stated that environmental impact was the main reason they shop for sustainable items. 

6. Payment Flexibility

We spoke earlier about the checkout process and ways to make it more accessible and convenient for customers. This also extends to the payment methods you offer at the point of sale. Regardless of whether customers are paying via their phones or at a physical register, there should be flexible payment options in place. Customers today are wary of data hacks and identity theft, and many don’t want to give their payment information to a wealth of retail stores. The answer?

Consider accepting payment options through third-party platforms like PayPal and Venmo. Your customers already trust these platforms, and they’re more likely to make a payment when there’s protection from data-hacking threats. Additionally, you can convince customers to make larger purchases when you have pay-over-time options. 

Some services, like Affirm, cover the cost of the items purchased by a customer while enrolling them into a payment plan. A large purchase totaling hundreds of dollars becomes infinitely more palatable when the customer can make smaller monthly payments. 

These options are often available through ecommerce platforms like Amazon, so by offering them in your physical locations, you’re directly competing with the online shopping world.

Amazon Dash Cart in Irvine, CA, Amazon Fresh

7. Labor Shortages

Not all trends are positive. Since 2020, businesses have been struggling to fill the void left by labor shortages. That issue isn’t going to magically go away in 2023. According to the Washington Post, toward the end of 2022, 70% of retail job openings are still unfilled, and that will continue into this brand new year. 

In other words, if you want to attract skilled retail employees, you need to make the experience worth their while. Take a look at the salaries and benefits you’re offering. 

What can you do to sweeten the deal and attract people to fill your vacant positions? Perhaps additional vacation time or a system of annual raises will help make your business a viable career opportunity for those looking for work. Of course, the other answer to these labor shortages is to invest more in automation technology that can allow you to shrink your workforce. 

Smart carts and self-checkout options, like those we discussed earlier, can help ease the burden on in-person staff and create a business plan that can run with fewer employees. While the investment in this technology will be substantial upfront, your business will save money on payroll and benefits costs in the long run. 

8. Livestream Shopping

Ecommerce businesses are constantly using influencer marketing to push products and services. So, why shouldn’t your physical location use these popular figures, too?An influencer is a person with a large social media following that promotes a product or service in exchange for some form of compensation. This compensation might be monetary, or it could be something as simple as free products from your store. It all depends on the individual influencer and what their goals are. Ecommerce stores have influencers try out their products or talk about them. The influencer then sends buyers to the ecommerce store with a promo code to track their sales and potentially pay a commission. But an influencer’s usefulness doesn’t begin and end with ecommerce platforms. 

You can also utilize their reach and the trust they’ve established with their audience for your physical location. Simply have the influencer use a live streaming feature on a platform like Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram to stream their shopping experience in your store. 

They can then edit that stream to an easily shareable video where they walk their followers through the shopping experience, showing off all your store has to offer. Livestream shopping has been a phenomenon in China for some time, and it’s starting to cross over the Pacific into US markets. But is it effective? The Influencer Marketing Factory actually discovered that 36% of a surveyed 1,000 US consumers had purchased something during a live stream. One way to improve your odds of success would be to choose your influencers carefully. Ensure that their audience is large enough to matter and that it can crossover with your target demographic. 

9. Hybrid Stores

One way to diversify your offerings and increase your audience is to create a hybrid shopping experience. In recent years, we’ve seen businesses that were once strictly retail expand their horizons, becoming hybrid establishments that cater to a wider variety of consumers. The most notable examples would be Target and Walmart. 

These retail giants have converted all of their superstore locations into hybrid retail/grocery stores. While your foray into hybrid retail doesn’t have to be quite so dramatic, consider experimenting by creating an event space or opening up a small coffee shop in your retail location. 

10. Augmented Reality Features

With the creation of the metaverse, we’re seeing a huge push in society toward virtual reality and augmented reality platforms. However, despite this, the retail industry has been slow to adopt this growing trend. Only 1% of retailers currently use AR or VR features as part of their business model, but it’s not as difficult to implement as it might seem from the outside. 

Simply creating an Instagram filter or incorporating QR codes that could be scanned for additional product information can go a long way toward making your business an AR hot spot. You could even use VR to allow customers to see what it’s like to use your products or create images of themselves wearing the clothing sold by your store. You could also incorporate a feature that would let customers digitally place your items in photos of their homes to see how a certain piece fits within a room. 

 

As 2023 begins, the retail landscape is poised for a number of great shifts. By embracing emerging trends, you’ll be able to provide the best possible experience for your customers in 2023 and beyond. If you want to take it a step further, subscribe to VIRA’s newsletter for the latest forecasted trends straight to your inbox.