Top Retail Trends of 2018

What retail and consumer shopping trends are having an impact in 2018? And more importantly, which ones are poised to have a lasting effect in the years to come?

Amid the recent upheaval of the retail landscape, many are predicting a continuation of the "retail apocalypse" with more store closings and depressed retail sales. However, Murphy Research expects to see a retail comeback driven by changing shopper behavior, evolving brand positioning, and powerful new technologies.

Murphy Research has assessed the landscape and tapped into our in-house shopper and retail experts to pinpoint the trends to watch in 2018 and beyond. Understanding and acting on these consumer, brand, and retailer trends will enable marketers to not just survive in the coming years, but to truly thrive.

Key themes driving the trends include:

  • Convenience
  • Experience
  • Personalization
  • Transparency

Here's a sneak peek at a few trends from Murphy Research's shopping and retail trends e-book:

Blockchain to drive more transparency

According to a recent study by Murphy Research, 60% of shoppers scrutinize product ingredients or materials, and 1 in 4 say brands must show transparency. Shoppers are looking for ways to access more information about their food and other products, like how and where it was produced, but it's almost impossible to get that information quickly and easily.

Manufacturers and food producers are looking into using blockchain technology to revolutionize the way people read labels and shop by making full production and supply chain data instantly available online or at the point of purchase. Walmart has already conducted a pilot program and found that applying blockchain technology cut the time it took to trace a package of mangoes from the farm to the store from seven days to just two seconds.

Shopping finds its voice

The fast rise of "v-commerce" (voice commerce) allows for people to shop for products through a sequence of natural-language voice commands using their smartphones or smart speakers, such as Google Home or Amazon Echo. This means that shoppers bypass traditional channels like search engines, apps and retailer websites (not to mention in-store displays and employees) to buy products.

This makes it incredibly convenient for consumers to shop but causes retailers and brands to lose out on many traditional marketing opportunities. Without the use of physical shelf displays, product photos or website descriptions, brands have fewer opportunities to communicate product information and sway decisions. It also makes it harder for shoppers to compare products, discover new merchandise, or learn more about specific products they're considering.

Many voice shoppers tend to stick with products they already know – for now. The challenge for brands will be to determine ways to build awareness and convey information when the only communication channel is voice.

Retail mashups disrupt the landscape

While partnerships in retail are nothing new (e.g., coffee shop in your grocery store, branded makeup counter in your department store's cosmetics department), 2018 is seeing the trend taken to a whole new level. Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods in 2017 serves as a wake-up call to all retailers to think differently about how to serve customers and approach partnerships.

Shoppers are increasingly open to unique retail combinations, and "discovering" new products or services in an unexpected space can add to the enjoyment of shopping and create buzz-worthy experiences. At the same time, retailers benefit from an expanded category view of shoppers' habits and can pull in new traffic by working with a new brand. So be on the lookout for spa treatments at Saks Fifth Avenue, banking services at Peet's Coffee, and niche gadgets from The Grommet at Ace Hardware store.

For more information on these and many other trends, download our free e-book: Top Shopping and Retail Trends for 2018.