Top 5 Retail Industry Trends To Watch in 2024
Regardless of how well your business has weathered the recent storms, you know that now is not the time to slow down. The new year is bringing big changes and new trends — and your business can take advantage of these changing conditions to set yourself up for big wins this year.
This article will cover seven emerging retail industry trends to watch this year, with actionable tips to help your business capitalize on them this year and moving forward.
Retail Marketing Trends
Many small retailers stick to the basics. Rather than exploring interesting trends and creative marketing, they stick to staples like print ads, radio spots, and the occasional mailer. However, if you stick to these tried-and-true strategies instead of branching out, you’re leaving opportunities for growth on the table.
Let’s examine a few of the reasons why small retail stores should make every effort to stay current on retail and marketing trends:
- Staying Relevant: Embracing modern trends, especially digital marketing trends, provides your business new opportunities. You can establish your brand as fresh, relevant, and forward-thinking, helping you keep up and connect with your customers.
- Competitive Edge: Are most of your local competitors sticking to the basics? Then branching out and exploring new trends allows you to stand out from the crowd and distinguish your store from your old-school competitors.
- Improved Reach: Digital marketing platforms offer a wealth of potential to your store. With the right strategies, you can reach a whole new marketplace. Creatively adapting your efforts to include trending tactics allows your business to position yourself as a contender among your larger competitors.
- Deeper Insights: When you follow trends and embrace modern tools and technology, you can unlock deeper insights and make better data-driven decisions for your business. Instead of chasing after every trend, ensure you make calculated investments, following the trends you believe have the greatest possible impact for your store.
When you embrace marketing trends and other retail industry shifts, you can position your store as a worthy competitor in your local market. With this information in mind, let’s look at the retail trends you may consider taking advantage of this year.
5 Retail Industry Trends To Take Advantage of This Year
1. Omnichannel Retail Distribution
The first trend you’ll want to watch this year is omnichannel distribution. In recent years, more and more customers are shopping online. If you want your store to compete with the big chains, you need to offer this same seamless experience to your customers.
Omnichannel retail allows you to offer a unified shopping experience across online and in-store. Some key factors to consider:
- Consistent pricing across channels
- Exclusive promotions to drive specific channels (e.g., offering “online-only” sales)
- Consistent product information
- Robust customer service across channels
To achieve true omnichannel mastery, you must be prepared to dedicate staff, technology resources, and strategic planning efforts to all applicable commerce channels. Your goal is full visibility into your inventory availability, ordering and fulfillment coordination, and customer analytics, regardless of channel. When done right, omnichannel retail allows smaller merchants to deliver the scale and sophistication customers expect from large chains.
Related Read: Brick-and-Mortar vs. E-Commerce: Which Is Best?
Actionable Tip: Allocate budget for integrated retail technology systems that seamlessly bridge your online store, brick-and-mortar location, mobile app, and other channels. Connecting data and systems centrally improves transparency, coordination, and the customer experience.
2. Increased Focus on ESG and Sustainability
Today’s consumers value environmental and social responsibility more than ever before. In fact, 83 percent of millennials are value-based shoppers, and that trend is expected to rise with Gen Z.
If you want to reach younger consumers, consider publicly setting measurable environmental, social responsibility, and governance (ESG) goals for your business. These efforts demonstrate a commitment to your community and the betterment of society, which is a draw for younger, values-driven shoppers.
For retail, optimizing operations for energy efficiency, renewable power, reduced waste, and stringent ethics oversight allows companies to tangibly "walk the talk" on sustainability through daily best practices.
Actionable Tip: Use recycled paper for packaging and seek partnerships with local suppliers who align with your brand values to expand positive impact. You may also elect to offer customers emailed receipts rather than printed ones to save on paper. Share sustainability progress and efforts via radical transparency reports that build customer trust and credibility around your initiatives.
3. Consumer "Experiences" Replacing Transactions
The nature of retail is moving from purely transactional product exchanges to experiential consumer engagement. Savvy brands are taking advantage of this trend by collaborating creatively with influencers, artists, and community partners.
Retailers can also leverage technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and 3D product visualizations to craft interactive, exciting spaces that make every touchpoint fresh and memorable. Additionally, having intuitive, glitch-free point of sale (POS) systems with flexible payment options and advanced inventory management features ensures your customers have a smooth, satisfying experience throughout their entire trip to your store.
Actionable Tip: Thoroughly train retail staff company-wide on cues like personalized greetings and real-time product recommendations so that every small interaction elevates the customer experience. Also, carefully craft your in-store merchandising displays and floor layout to maximize the visitor experience, and take steps to ensure this experience is consistent across your website branding.
4. The Return of Niche Retailers and "Shopping Small"
Another modern trend is the return of niche retailers and “shopping small.” This movement is promising for small businesses, but only if you take the appropriate steps to capitalize on it. This trend is not just about selling products; it's about fostering a sense of community and supporting local causes that resonate with younger consumers.
Championing local partners, participating in community events, and backing local nonprofits can help you connect with your audience more deeply.
Related Read: POS vs. CRM: Which Is Best for a Retail Store?
Highlighting the founders, origins, and unique specialties of your brand amplifies authenticity. This narrative allows consumers to relate personally, forging an emotional connection with your brand.
Actionable Tip: Train your staff to provide tailored recommendations based on individual preferences, elevating the shopping experience. For online retailers, follow-up emails expressing gratitude or offering a discount coupon for their next purchase can reinforce the personal touch. You may also choose to curate a selection of locally relevant products and exclusives to embrace your unique area and attract local customers.
5. AI-Powered Personalization and Automation
It’s impossible to talk about trends in this environment without mentioning the largest trend of all: AI and automation.
AI-driven personalization and automation are game-changers in the modern retail sphere. Organizations across industries can harness customer information and point of sale data to segment audiences, craft personalized marketing strategies, and create tailored promotions.
Related Read: 5 Customer Loyalty Program Ideas To Run This Year
Predictive analytics also play a pivotal role in this trend. With these robust analytics, you can identify sales trends swiftly and use that data to optimize inventory and customer experiences. The more insights you glean from buying trends, the better you can tailor recommendations, boost sales, and give your customers a more personalized, positive experience.
Actionable Tip: Start by implementing pilot projects to test the waters of AI and personalization capabilities before committing extensive resources. For instance, you could roll out AI-driven personalized product recommendations on your website for a specific product category.
If the AI pilot outperforms expectations, consider scaling it across all your e-commerce channels.
Your POS System: Looking Beyond Retail Industry Trends
Taking advantage of retail trends like the ones listed in this post is a fantastic way to keep your store relevant and engaging to customers new and old. However, managing these trends' logistics behind the scenes can be challenging.
Enter: Your point of sale system.
When you implement a robust, modern point of sale solution in your store, you can track real-time sales and customer data, gathering the information you need to improve the customer experience and boost sales for your store.
POS Nation offers point of sale solutions designed for small businesses like yours. Our all-in-one solution offers real-time inventory tracking, integrated reporting and analytics, flexible payment processing, and customer loyalty integrations. Schedule a free demo of POS Nation today to see how our system can help your store.