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Ten Retail Predictions for 2013

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With some lessons learned and what appears to be a more positive start to January, here is a list of prediction for retail in 2013. Obviously it goes without saying that all things digital will be a major focus for the coming year. Social media, digital marketing, mobility and push customer specific promotions are probably already on our list of strategic considerations. These in many respects are at the core of the predictions. So that said;

Here are 10 predictions that will change the face of retail for 2013;

  1. Bricks and mortar stores will shrink: This is not a prediction that more retailers will close their doors in 2013, this is a premonition that retailers will start to downsize their physical locations in line with their on their omni-channel strategy. With rents only increasing and placing pressure on the cost of goods for B&M retailing, space efficiency will become paramount. Look for less clutter and more calculated space usage to include digital tools like kiosks for social convergence, augmented reality and even access to customer reviews based marketing in store.

  2. Customers are the sales people: For decades retailers have been telling us how and what to buy. The shift (as with the previous point) will see customers selling to each other. As the number of shoppers researching products online increases retailers need to be more savvy and tuned in to what is happening via social media channels. Retailers are starting to embrace this in the US by providing customers a means to share their experiences via Facebook and Pinterest. Expect to see this conversation moving to digital access points in store.

  3. Click to brick: A number of retailers are starting to incentive their clientele to purchase online and pick up in store. This fosters the physical relationship with the customer and enables upselling and crossing opportunities that may escape retailers with pure play online sales. Reference Best Buy in the US as they are already masters at this initiative.

  4. Retail CRM solutions are the best salesperson you have: Expect to see less blanket marketing and more customer specific targeted correspondence. Analysing your customers purchasing behaviour and targeting their interest will see a major shift in 2013. When we speak directly to our customers they are more likely to listen and customer relationship management solutions are the key to unlocking this data. They should be adopted heavily in 2013 and considered as a core competency moving forward.

  5. It’s a mobile world: If it’s available digitally it must be mobile compatible. Mobility is the future of networking and commerce. Customers literally have the world at their fingertips and will be expecting to access information in a mobile friendly fashion. Expect to see more retailers adopting an M-commerce strategy as customer will be turned off by non-adopters.

  6. Cutting out the middleman: To compete in an ever increasing online market and floor discounting environment expect retailers to cut out supply channel layers where possible. Look at Kmart who now go direct to the manufacture, bypassing the importer to achieve the best possible price point for the consumer. There will be more specialised brands like Zara entering the market where the retailer can control the price and protect their margin.

  7. Social networking platforms: Joining the conversation is no longer for “those people with too much time on their hands”. It’s now seen as the preferred method of communication of the last 2 generations. Smart retailers will embrace this in 2013 by listening, engaging, attracting and converting their customers into loyal followers. The goal is to look for advocates that speak your message to their friends.

  8. Brand focused: Customers like to be part of a community, one that they can relate to and makes them feel included. Look for product branding to increase in 2013. The number of companies that now have branded stores is increasing. Retailers will be looking to create ‘brand fans’ not just customers.

  9. Omni-Channel supply chain alignment: For those retailers that have yet to streamline their supply chain touch points to be in line with their Omni-Channel strategy, 2013 will be remembered as that critical year. Customers are becoming increasingly impatient and unforgiving. They are looking for fast, efficient and confident purchasing, consistent promotions and hassle free exchanges and returns regardless of which channel they use.

  10. Data is king: Forget about what you think you know, this will be the year to prove it. With larger enterprises spending heavily on capturing, analysing and making the most of their transactional data, 2013 will be a big year for ‘Big Data’. Regardless of the size of business or the number of transactions, look for retailers to be putting strategies in place around business intelligence (BI) systems. Look for BI to be a big buzz for middle tier retailers.

So with a new year ahead, the challenge to improve sales, increase market share and better service our customers will be no different, but the customer is evolving and the landscape changing. 2013 is the year where it’s no longer an option to just sit on the sideline waiting to see what happens, it’s the year to adapt and join the conversation, no pun intended.

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan

Stephen Duncan is a Technology Retail Specialist.


  • Stephen Duncan

    Hi Paul,

    Interesting experience. I certainly feel that with the means available for capturing, storing and analysis customer spend becoming more accessible to companies it makes sense that we’re going to have a spike in personalised loyalty messages.

    Loyalty message is not a bad topic for it's own blog.

    Cheers, Steve

  • Paul
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    09 January 2013

    Interesting read, I think you may be onto some things there.

    I really think items 3 and 4 are starting to get some traction here, and expect them to explode this year.

    I today got hit by an email from Woolworths (granted I scanned my everyday rewards card) asking me about a recent store visit I made while on holidays, very interesting use of data.

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