By Christine Kern, contributing writer
2017 proved to be a strong year for retail sales, and experts project even stronger growth in 2018.
Retail sales are anticipated to rise 6.2 percent across North American in 2018 according to new research from IHL Group. The new 2018 Retail Transformation Study looks at retail sales growth at store level, Ecommerce, mobile commerce, and how retailers plan to increase both stores and IT spending to meet customer demands and effectively compete with Amazon and Walmart.
It is clear that retail is at a turning point, and that retailers must make some hard decisions about which way to move in order to thrive. As retail evolves, new successful directions will emerge as growth patterns change but continue.
Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, a market intelligence firm focused on trends in retail, predicts that 2018 will be the year retailers begin to invest in technology for technology’s sake, stating that “We’re reaching the point where the customer experience can’t get any better without taking care of the supporting enterprise foundation – and that means investing in technology for technology’s sake. Retailers need to invest in IT to create a more solid foundation, and to enable future speed and flexibility.”
2017 was rife with predictions of the Retail Apocalypse and the demise of the brick-and-mortar store, but the final sales figures prove otherwise. "Despite what the headlines might say, retail grew over $220b in the US and Canada in 2017, said Greg Buzek, President of IHL Group. "Retailers are projecting even stronger growth in 2018, including 4.8% growth in sales at stores."
According to the research, conducted in collaboration with RIS News, retail is not dying but it is rapidly transforming, with a clear delineation between retail "haves" and "have nots" when it comes to which brands are willing to do the things to transform and grow and those that are not. As retail evolves, retailers need to take the appropriate steps to thrive, and this report demonstrates what winners are doing to get there.
Among the study’s important highlights:
The research included 123 retail senior executives surveyed, most with annual sales over $1Biillion USD. The study benchmarks IT Spending patterns and purchase intentions for traditional technologies such as POS, Digital Signage, Mobile POS, Click and Collect, Buy Online Pick Up In Store (BOPIS), as well as emerging technologies and increased spend in AI/Machine Learning, RFID, Beacons, Augmented Reality, Advanced Analytics and Big Data Integration. Finally, it also looks at changes in terms of ecommerce fulfillment options and the increase of warehouses.