3 Trends Impacting The Retail Industry Right Now

Last updated: 02-02-2020

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3 Trends Impacting The Retail Industry Right Now

As the retail industry evolves, businesses need to adapt alongside. And it seems in the last decade or so there have have been many drastic changes that have had a major impact on retail sales. Let’s take a look at three trends that are currently impacting the retail industry and what companies can do to win back lost business. 

Sustainability was a major topic of discussion at several sessions at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail's Big Show, with brands including Patagonia, Lush and Williams-Sonoma talking about building on earlier sustainability efforts. 

With all the necessary attention on global warming, overflowing landfills, and an overall need to protect the earth, consumers are much more focused on the impact the fashion industry has on the environment. And they want to support sustainable brands that are responsibly managing their environmental impact. 

The fashion industry accounts for 8.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The documentary film The True Costshed light on the negative impacts the clothing industry has on our planet – like the fact that the fashion industry is the world's second-largest polluter, and the world now consumes a staggering 80 billion pieces of clothing each year which is up 400% from two decades ago. The recent attention to this issue has made more consumers aware of how dire the situation really is, creating a new wave of conscious shoppers who scrutinize brands more closely before spending their cash. 

Brand can meet the needs of these conscious shoppers by minimizing their ecological footprint, whether that be through sustainable products and packaging materials, sharing environmental efforts in their brand story, or simply involving customers in the process. 88% of consumers want brands to help them make a difference in improving their environmental and social footprint. This tactic alone can go a long way in gaining consumer loyalty. 

With the ability to rent clothes for special occasions, workwear, or even clothing swaps for everyday wear, consumers have less of a need to make purchases. This is a win-win for the earth and for consumers’ pockets. But obviously not so much for clothing retailers. In order to change with the times and maintain sales, retailers need to assess the breadth of their inventory, analyze sales very closely and make smarter and leaner purchasing decisions in the future in order to minimize waste (through excess inventory) while increasing sales. 

And traditional retailers can, of course, tap into the rental market as well. Urban Outfitters, for example, launched Nuuly, the company’s clothing rental subscription service. Dave Hayne, Chief Digital Officer of Urban Outfitters, said six months into the launch of their rental subscription service, subscription customers are still shopping in its stores too.

The online clothing rental market size is estimated to reach $1.96 billion by 2023, up from $1.18 billion in 2018, giving consumers who cannot afford or do not want to spend money on clothing the opportunity to easily access new trends and garments.

With mobile phones in every consumer’s pocket making it simpler than ever to purchase anything they want with a few clicks, the desire to visit brick-and-mortar stores has to outweigh the ease of access that smart phones provide. That’s not an easy task for companies to achieve. 

The days are long gone when retailers and tech companies were two different entities. In today’s business landscape, all retailers must also be tech companies in order to be successful. With the future of retail being online and mobile, every brand needs to strengthen their tech capabilities, with customer data being their strongest asset. That’s why it’s key for brands to stay up to date or even ahead of the curve when it comes to technological advances. 

Consumers are the driver for the retail economy. And it’s clear they are demanding the latest in technological advances, accessibility, seamless user experiences, and environmental sustainability.

As the retail industry evolves, businesses need to adapt alongside. And it seems in the last decade or so there have have been many drastic changes that have had a major impact on retail sales. Let’s take a look at three trends that are currently impacting the retail industry and what companies can do to win back lost business. 

Sustainability was a major topic of discussion at several sessions at NRF 2020 Vision: Retail's Big Show, with brands including Patagonia, Lush and Williams-Sonoma talking about building on earlier sustainability efforts. 

With all the necessary attention on global warming, overflowing landfills, and an overall need to protect the earth, consumers are much more focused on the impact the fashion industry has on the environment. And they want to support sustainable brands that are responsibly managing their environmental impact. 

The fashion industry accounts for 8.1% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The documentary film The True Costshed light on the negative impacts the clothing industry has on our planet – like the fact that the fashion industry is the world's second-largest polluter, and the world now consumes a staggering 80 billion pieces of clothing each year which is up 400% from two decades ago. The recent attention to this issue has made more consumers aware of how dire the situation really is, creating a new wave of conscious shoppers who scrutinize brands more closely before spending their cash. 

Brand can meet the needs of these conscious shoppers by minimizing their ecological footprint, whether that be through sustainable products and packaging materials, sharing environmental efforts in their brand story, or simply involving customers in the process. 88% of consumers want brands to help them make a difference in improving their environmental and social footprint. This tactic alone can go a long way in gaining consumer loyalty. 

With the ability to rent clothes for special occasions, workwear, or even clothing swaps for everyday wear, consumers have less of a need to make purchases. This is a win-win for the earth and for consumers’ pockets. But obviously not so much for clothing retailers. In order to change with the times and maintain sales, retailers need to assess the breadth of their inventory, analyze sales very closely and make smarter and leaner purchasing decisions in the future in order to minimize waste (through excess inventory) while increasing sales. 

And traditional retailers can, of course, tap into the rental market as well. Urban Outfitters, for example, launched Nuuly, the company’s clothing rental subscription service. Dave Hayne, Chief Digital Officer of Urban Outfitters, said six months into the launch of their rental subscription service, subscription customers are still shopping in its stores too.

The online clothing rental market size is estimated to reach $1.96 billion by 2023, up from $1.18 billion in 2018, giving consumers who cannot afford or do not want to spend money on clothing the opportunity to easily access new trends and garments.

With mobile phones in every consumer’s pocket making it simpler than ever to purchase anything they want with a few clicks, the desire to visit brick-and-mortar stores has to outweigh the ease of access that smart phones provide. That’s not an easy task for companies to achieve. 

The days are long gone when retailers and tech companies were two different entities. In today’s business landscape, all retailers must also be tech companies in order to be successful. With the future of retail being online and mobile, every brand needs to strengthen their tech capabilities, with customer data being their strongest asset. That’s why it’s key for brands to stay up to date or even ahead of the curve when it comes to technological advances. 

Consumers are the driver for the retail economy. And it’s clear they are demanding the latest in technological advances, accessibility, seamless user experiences, and environmental sustainability.


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