In Depth

Fall Retail Forecast: Wearables With A Chance Of Beacons

Whether a retailer had a successful summer, one it would prefer to forget or something in between, there’s no point in looking back (just ask Frank Sinatra). Looking ahead to fall, on the other hand, could benefit anyone aiming to flourish in the retail space as we head into an all-new shopping season.

We peered into our crystal ball and came away with five retail trends that are poised to make waves in the industry this autumn.

 

Doubling Down On Beacon Technology

In 2014, retailers large and small were busy rolling out new location-based beacon devices. This investment in new technologies is about to pay off in 2015, with new opportunities for companies to connect with shoppers digitally as they make buying decisions in-store. We are sure to see some innovative new uses of these technologies in the months ahead.

The advantages to beacon technology go far beyond comparison shopping, as mobile payments, loyalty and custom deals are all likely to make appearances in a major way this fall and into the holiday shopping season.

 

Get Your Wearables On

With Apple Watch and Google Glass behind us, tech retailers are looking past the hype of these initially high-priced novelty wearables to enhanced-experience devices that are more accessible to the average consumer. Expect to see more players introducing new smart wearable technology products this autumn, with their sights set on attracting a larger cross section of consumers beyond the super high-tech early adopter crowd.

 

Retail With A Cause

Millennials care — perhaps more than any generation before them — about where their products come from, how they impact the environment and the overall effect they may have on the world at large. That’s why you’ll see more brands leaning into cause-based marketing and entire product lines with a more “authentic” identity and product origin story to offer consumers.

While some companies have stumbled recently in that regard — like The Honest Company with its sunscreen snafu (which was ultimately more about its mishandling of a defective product via social media) — as long as retail brands can keep the customer’s experience as a central focus, this trend will continue to generate good vibes throughout the industry.

 

On Demand To Stay In Demand

While Burger King may have been ahead of the trend with its memorable “Have It Your Way” slogan — which was actually swapped out for the slightly more open-ended “Be Your Way” in 2014, after more than 40 years — customization is driving big growth for many sectors of the retail industry.

Today, the idea of having anything your way is more than a catchy mantra. It’s given birth to a new retail model of offering goods and services that are tailored to the consumer’s specifications and personal tastes. There are plenty of startups that are capitalizing on this trend, from 1701 Bespoke designing suits-to-order, to furniture manufacturer Joybird offering customers the ability to be their own sofa designer, to Brilliant Bicycle Co., which lets riders put together the beach cruiser of their dreams. Recently, more established mass retail brands like Target are also getting in on the trend, presenting on-demand offerings that let consumers personalize the shopping and payment experience to fit their needs. Look for this trend to continue to develop throughout the remainder of 2015.

 

Millennials Vs. Boomers: It Ain’t Over

Millennials are certainly dominating media and popular culture, with some projections suggesting that the Millennial generation will overtake the Boomers in buying power by 2020.

There’s a downside for retailers who only chase the generation of the moment, however: Millennials are impulsive spenders with a high standard of living and low net worth that makes them unlikely to have large savings or long-term investments, such as real estate or 401ks.

Holding a direct opposition to this mentality is the Boomer generation, which has taken a much longer-term view of investments and overall financial wellness — thus insulating their buying power and remaining hyper-relevant as a target demographic in the retail space. Millennials are a generation of renters (as opposed to owners), which may create some unique challenges for retailers — especially those hawking higher-end goods in the home decor industry that carry bigger ticket prices. It will be interesting to see how their spending (and saving) behaviors shift as they advance in their careers and cross new life milestones — like parenthood — in larger numbers.

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