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The 5 Most Influential Retail Trends of 2017

March 1, 2017
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Retailers will feel a potent mix of the old and the new this year.

Superlative customer service — the oldest “must have” in the retail playbook  — will take on even more importance as customers increasingly demand instant inventory stocking, up-to-the-minute items, personalized service and transparent searchability, powered by their smart phones.

Operating across multiple channels? Discover the 5 best practices retailers should follow to maximize the benefits of omnichannel retailing [ebook]

To meet expectations, retailers will turn to ever-more-sophisticated technology to deliver the goods.

In short, this won’t be your grandpa’s kind of retail season. Or even your older brother’s, for that matter.

“2017 will be a tipping point for many of the technologies that have been in startup mode for two to three years,” the National Retail Federation declared in its annual What’s Next blog. “That’s not to say that concepts such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality are ready for prime time, but clearly we’re at a point where these emerging technologies have proven valuable and are on the cusp of sparking greater change.”

By necessity, a sophisticated retail POS system needs to be at the heart of any retailer’s attempts to keep up with galloping change, the researchers at Miami-based Retail Systems Research note.  A good retail POS allows stores to seamlessly track inventories across multiple physical and online stores, allowing faster and more sophisticated ordering, stocking and delivery. It is the workhorse that drives everything from personalized eReceipts to ePayments to eCommerce integration — an omnichannel retail strategy to drive sales.

Add in the security and flexibility of the cloud, which lets small and large retailers alike quickly update and upgrade their systems to fit their plans, and watch the speed of competition soar.

Here’s a look at some of the top trends the National Retail Federation and other experts see coming in the New Year.

  1. eCommerce Will Boom. Consumers, as they always do, are driving the bus, and in 2017 they will continue to drive it straight into eCommerce and mobile shopping. The trend is clear — American consumers spent $6.83 billion on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in 2016, smashing previous records.
  2. Words Like Omnichannel Will Fade. As sophisticated POS software, such as Runit’s, takes greater hold, retailers will gain more seamless control over their mobile, eCommerce and brick-and-mortar operations, allowing them to unify their branding and customer service across all channels at once. Consumers expect this. They don’t care whether they are shopping with a phone or their shoe leather — it’s all the same store to them, and they expect the same great service from every channel.
  3. Customers Will Expect Personalized Service. POS systems make it possible to recognize each customer as they check out of a physical store or visit an online shop. This makes it easier for retailers to remember what each customer purchased before and to customize incentives, email and social media campaigns to the buying history. Customers will increasingly expect this.
  4. Chatbots and Virtual Reality Will Enter Everyone’s Radar Screens. Not everyone will be able to introduce machine intelligence that can talk to customers and take orders, or virtual reality dressing rooms where they can try on clothes, but customers will increasingly experience these things in the marketplace and begin to expect them.
  5. Social Media Will Gain Even More Importance. Along with personalized service, customers like to have stories attached to their purchases, preferably from trusted sources. They are becoming increasingly comfortable with engaging with retailers on their social media feeds and hitting the buy button.

Of course, most retailers are marketers first and not technology whizzes, so it will be increasingly important to find strong partners to keep up with the pace of innovation. From the heart of New York City’s Fashion District, Runit’s staff of Sales, Support, Configuration, Development and Operations professionals have been helping retailers big and small stay on the cutting edge of technology since 2001.