By Katie Griffiths

keepING up with retail trends

The online world moves so fast, but unless you jump on the social train your brand will never keep up with retail industry trends.

Whether it’s the buzz on Twitter or the rants on Facebook, social media is a vital source of information, not only for ecommerce trends but to keep a finger on the consumer pulse in general.

And these forums are great for trying out marketing strategies to discover what resonates most with shoppers.

Facebook holds 1.71 billion people while Instagram has 500 million active users. WhatsApp has a billion, just the same as YouTube.

For those investing in SEO to get their brand noticed within 3.5 billion searches per day, social media is an equally important piece of the action.

Ecommerce retailers and high street sellers should be considering a social audit right about now, to ensure they go into the next 12 months with their eyes and ears wide open to the online buzz.

Here are five of the retail market trends we have picked up on for 2017 – just by engaging with the social media buzz and watching how platforms are evolving.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

There have been retail predictions of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) taking over for the last few years – but this has never quite happened yet.

Until this year’s phenomenon of Pokemon Go introduced a lot of people to AR and showed there is a mass market when it is executed well.

Brands with high street stores are likely to be interested in AR development, to make proximity-based offers and engagement possible, and will no doubt experiment in the coming year.

Investing in social reach

Organic reach on social media has been greatly reduced - in Facebook’s case dropping as low as 2%.

Meaning brands will either need to pay up, or have a true understanding of the content their audience wants to see – maximising sharing and engaging influencers.

In the end, a successful strategy will most likely have to include paying money to the networks.

Rise of the Chatbots

Artificial intelligence is now reaching a level where people use digital assistants such as Siri, Cortana, and Google Assistant in their daily lives.

This will spill over into retail business trends, with consumers talking to their phone rather than exercising their fingers.

Now that Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Google Allo are all introducing integrated bots to help with bookings and customer service, Chatbots make sense for retailers to use for dealing with common questions and simple purchases. This will free up customer service representatives to answer more in-depth queries.

Cross-platform interaction

Online shopping trends will see the vast majority of consumers starting a transaction on one device – and ending it on another.

So while most brands have a digital presence, a shift to mobile and cross-platform interactions will be necessary to stay ahead of the game.

Mobile share of global ecommerce is expected to grow from 40% in 2015 to 70% by 2017.

Online retail trends will drive this change, folding in new technologies which resonate with the consumer.

Live streaming

Facebook this year introduced live streaming for celebrities, then rolled it out for all users. YouTube Live is also getting off the ground.

As social networks fight to keep people online, there will be an even bigger push into live video, and this will spill over into trends in retail.

Forward-thinking brands should be watching this social media development for opportunities. Retailers have the potential to release engaging content, conduct marketing around an event, or even pay influencers to feature their products.

With the priority that Facebook gives to video and the reduced organic reach, it’s all to play for in 2017.


To discover how you can make better use of social media for your retail business, call 0800 612 9890.