Navigating the unchartered territory of 2023 retail

Sarah Friswell
13 March, 23

This year, we’re not expecting a normal year in retail.  With less predictable peaks and troughs on the horizon for 2023, those retailers that are ready to embrace change will be the most successful. Tech-led businesses may be ahead on integrating all applications, with bricks and mortar stores working hard to seamlessly blend their offline and online customer channels to involve more human, data-driven shopping experiences that connect with customers – wherever they are – and create remarkable customer experiences.

Omnichannel has become an essential ‘code of conduct’ for retail survival, to ensure that all customer channels – from the app, to web and in-store – offer consistent seamless personalised experiences. This data-centric strategy that unites all customer channels will help keep retailers competitive this year. But despite 40 percent of retailers polled in 2022 by Red Ant saying omnichannel strategy was their main priority, over a quarter (27 percent) were still planning or had no omnichannel strategy. 2023 will be the year for those who haven’t evolved their approach to catch up with the pack, or risk failing to meet customers’ expectations.

The importance of assisted selling

Keeping pace with customers’ ever-evolving expectations and retail trends will be critical for 2023. With the rise of the socially-conscious consumer, and 45 percent of consumers prepared to pay more for sustainable products, it is therefore essential that store associates are fully informed of all products in the retail catalogue that they may be asked about. Yoobic claims that a majority 81 percent of shoppers conduct online research before visiting a physical store to finalise their shopping decision.

And according to Retail Revolution, 56 percent of UK consumers expect the store associate to be as informed as them in offering advice and information about the full catalogue of products. Therefore assisted selling is the secret weapon for the new digital era of retail.

Five trends for retailers to be aware of in 2023

Some key trends for retailers to be aware of this year will include: 

The rise of blended tech 

Blending in-store tech with online will be a big area for investment to offer consistent, intelligent, elevated customer experiencesSeamless shopping experiences will be facilitated through customer data capture and intelligent applications for personalisation, enabling cross-selling, upselling and recommendations based on AI. Two-way integration with online accounts allows for a seamless transition from online browsing to in-store experience and back again. A modern PoS makes it easy for the customer to convert even after they’ve left the store with remote payments, emailed reminders and post-purchase follow-ups.

Customer experience will drive retail 

When pushed, customers will look for experience value over purchase value. The research phase of a purchase is critical for retailers to focus on, and personalisation is key to this. Clienteled customers that are supported through their browsing and buying experiences by data-empowered store associates in store or online and communicating via WhatsApp, SMS or email will generate the greatest value for brands. Clienteling results in consumers making larger and more frequent purchases, with lower returns. 

Hybrid client/tech partner teams will build global partnerships 

New ways of working have opened the door for international retail tech collaborations. The accelerated development of communications technology now allows businesses to work efficiently together even if they’re on different continents. The ‘Think global, act local’ approach allows for speedy development and deployment in ways that are relevant to each territory, with expert team members on call – no matter what the timezone. 

Making human connections will matter more 

Increasingly, retailers must consider the network around them and their environment to be seen as an attractive retailer. This means sharing information about ethical trading and sustainability.

Eco-awareness will build among consumers and retailers 

Retailers must empower customers and store associates with the right data and be ready for more focused buying.  Any retailers that are focusing on sustainability initiatives which echo consumer values must think long-term in realising value from their data to deliver consistent customer experience across all channels.

Defining retail success in 2023

While every new year brings new tech and innovation, 2023 shopping behaviour will be influenced by environmental, economic and political factors that require an agile retail approach. With a clear data strategy and enabling the right access to customer data, brands can use powerful tech integrations to understand buyers’ behaviour, be more agile and make better decisions that boost performance, sales and customer loyalty.

This year more so than in recent years, an omnichannel retail strategy that integrates all customer channels to allow data to be shared across the business will unlock potential for making personalised and purpose-driven recommendations that delight their customers and deliver on their objectives.

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