IGD predicts five trends set to shape retail in 2019

Innovative advances in technology, coupled with seamless in-store shopping experiences, are among the IGD’s top predictions for 2019’s global retail trends:

  • Data, and particularly customer data, will offer more personalised shopping
  • Sustainability concerns will change the way retailers do business
  • Stores will offer more seamless shopping experiences
  • Healthy eating and wellness will grow in popularity
  • Shopping opportunities will increasingly be available anywhere, anytime

The past twelve months have seen new, faster payment systems and collaborations between retailers and healthcare providers to encourage healthy eating. Developments such as these are expected to go even further in 2019.

“2019’s biggest trend of all is likely to be the continuation of rapid and radical change in the food and grocery industry,” said Toby Pickard, Head of Insight, Innovation and Futures at IGD. “We have already seen a significant pivot towards innovative new technology, and there is no sign of this letting up next year. Shoppers’ expectations have changed, and the retail and grocery sectors are working to meet those expectations in every area of business.”

Five key retail trends for 2019

1. Data dictates the way: data will be one of the main building blocks of retail growth

2018 has seen data become more valuable to the retail sector than ever, with 46% of supply chain experts now actively prioritising data-driven business. As well as helping to boost sales, accurate data will be vital for tools that allow retailers to understand customer behaviour – and reward their loyalty.

Through customer datasets, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in-store, retailers can target products and offers more effectively whilst maintaining appropriate stock levels and improving customer service. Insights gained through closer customer engagement will provide invaluable guidance to retailers looking to grow their businesses: making stronger connections beneficial to both groups.

2. Doing good is good businesses: firms will increasingly take the lead on sustainability

Issues such as food waste and plastic pollution are headline news, and this has translated to changing attitudes across the generations. Nearly three quarters (74%) of UK shoppers say that they have become more aware of the environmental impact of plastic packaging over the past year, and this has led to innovations such as biodegradable wrapping and plastic-free supermarket aisles. Retailers are no longer thinking about just reducing waste, but want to make a positive, tangible contribution. The next wave of innovative and leading retailers and brands will move beyond reducing their impact.

3. Seamless stores: physical stores will become more digital, and offer a more ‘seamless’ shopping experience

Physical stores will offer a much more digital experience in 2019, by using technology to make it easier for customers to find items and gain more product information. 85% of UK shoppers would like to see the rollout of more in-store technologies. This should lead to a faster shop for many, where searching aisles and shelves for the right item is replaced by an app that guides shoppers to where they want to be.

“Physical stores offer customers a more tangible shopping experience, where they can see products before they commit to purchase,” said Pickard. “This gives these spaces an advantage over online providers, and we are seeing stores begin to capitalise on that and add in extras to incorporate more of the benefits of online.

“A recent example of this is Il Viaggiator Goloso, a premium Italian brand, which has enabled its electronic shelf-edge labels to show the online reviews and scores products have received. This gives customers a more informed choice in store.”

4. Help me be healthy: retailers will play a more active role in supporting the health and wellness of consumers

Most shoppers aspire to eat and live well, with 85% saying they are actively trying to improve their diet, but aspirations don’t always translate into action. We believe shoppers will be more health conscious going forward, so supporting them to both look and feel good will be a major priority for retailers and their suppliers. This means that both consumers and businesses will be thinking more about wellness and the role of retail in promoting cleaner living going forward.

5. Anywhere, anytime: social commerce will grow with more options for purchasing products ‘on the go’

We expect new innovative social commerce solutions to emerge throughout 2019. Retailers and suppliers will deliver targeted marketing, and new ways to make online shopping more social, instantaneous, and convenient.

“In 2019 we’ll see retailers think increasingly about making every moment shoppable,” Pickard continued. “A recent innovation was easyJet making it possible for Instagram users to find and book holidays to new destinations, simply by clicking on a photo they have seen.

“Whether through targeted marketing or simple ways to make purchasing more seamless, shopping is becoming not just more convenient but more instant as well.”

Shopping will become seamless and omnipresent. People will no longer need to visit a retailer’s online store. As they look at pictures, watch videos or TV they’ll be able to just add products to a shopping cart. This has the potential to change the way that retailers think about selling in the future.

See these trends in practice with a range of global retail case studies.