UK Retail Trends 2020: What Are Stores Monitoring?

UK Retail Trends and the health of the retail industry has been a topic of conversation for several years now. This has been specifically around the UK high street and the closure of several stores and retail estates. As hot topic, it is easy to look at the retail landscape and wonder if everything is doom and gloom. But 2020 vision is all about optimism, right? We know that despite challenges in the retail market, there has been a lot to celebrate in 2018 and 2019.

In previous years, several brands have introduced new technology and innovations to drive more footfall through stores. This is aiding sales to the retail market as a whole. Sure, we don’t have crystal ball to look into the year ahead. But if we study key trends, it is possible to pull together a few hypothesises. So, what’s hot in 2020?

Once QR codes were the future of commerce – so the analysts aren’t always absolutely right.

An increased focus on sustainability from brands

When analysing UK retail trends, the importance of sustainability is becoming increasing prevalent. Society is waking up. A recent survey found that 62% of young UK consumers said they would consider buying from brands that were more transparent regarding their environmental footprint. 63% noted they had and would continue to stop using products which are harmful to the environment.

And the market is listening! Several independent stores have already committed to increasing sustainable practice investment by up to 33%. The way many are aiming to do this is by increasing the amount of recycling and reuse in their business. One practical way in which this can be done is through loyalty points and schemes for consumers who return old and used products, incentivising engagement with the important sustainable agenda.

Companies reducing, reusing and recycling is an important first step in a sustainable future.

Focus on the community

In the age of social media, it’s long been said that your customers are your brand. Retailers are finding that creating a sense of community can help brands set themselves apart and build more robust relationships with their customers. and it Makes sense, right? Naturally this will bring its own rewards to the company in question, by driving loyalty and ultimately sales.

But how? One of 2019’s UK retail trends was the localisation of HMV stores which would promote local music using a “local” section of the store. This was augmented by putting on events for local bands and artists. This practice essentially extends the store front to be a live music venue. GAME have also promoted this community feel in 2019 by continuing to open several GAME:Belong stores. Here, customers can come and play their favourite games together – whether this be a daytime or evening event.

In an age of social media, the audience is now as important to the brand as the brand itself.

Increased use of technology – particularly back of house

We have seen the use of in store tech increase over the last few years. Check out the following eXPD8 blog here – specifically noting the use of virtual reality and touch in store. Experts predict that in 2020, retailers will also prioritise their backend processes and systems. This will include an increased use of tech for inventory management and supply chains etc.

The increased use of technology in this area should make processes more efficient and ultimately in store stock availability more accurate. Increased stock availability will lead to an increase in sales! It’s a simple if this, then that. If consumers can see it and buy it, they will. If they can’t, they won’t.

Blockchain, augmented and virtual reality are changing the retail world in 2020.

Physical stores opening for digital brands

Often, the debate is centred around bricks and mortar stores going online. But in 2020, many digital brands will begin to open stores on the high street to give themselves a physical presence. As an example, Samsung and Tesla have continued to open more ‘experience stores’ throughout the UK to help showcase their products to their consumers and drive sales through these customer interactions. It’s an idea that was pioneered by Apple, but it catching on throughout the tech sector.

Apple pioneered the experiential retail space, and now other big tech brands are following.

Increased product customisation and personalisation

One of a kind / customised products have seen a real rise in 2019 and are set to continue into 2020. In Christmas 2019 specifically, more than 50% of UK consumers expressed interest in purchasing customised products to add to their shopping basket. In an age where everything is “go go go”, a personalised product is a sought after gifting idea. This shows that time and thought went into your choice of gift. And who doesn’t want the precious commodity of time spent on them?

With 3D printing and laser-engraving now commonplace, it’s all about originality at scale.

Here at eXPD8, we look forward to seeing what 2020 brings and will be looking out for an increased prevalence of these trends. We are sure to see several additions to these and look forward to monitoring the market place over the next year. Throughout any changes in the marketplace it will continue to be essential that products have maximum availability on shelf for customers to purchase – in this way we look forward to supporting our existing client base and welcoming new clients into the new year. If you would like your brand to be supported by eXPD8 please get in contact today.

Gemma Cook
Client Services Controller