Top 10 Retail Trends You Need to Know: February 2017

Top Retail Trends February 2017

Industry Trend #1
Survival of the fittest
As consumer demands grow and technology evolves, brands that digitize their in-store strategies will come out on top. 
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Industry Trend #2
Strong retail sales
Retail sales at the beginning of the year were higher than expected, making it a prime time for retailers to build out an omnichannel strategy. 
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Industry Trend #3
E-commerce or bust
Retailers who neglect to invest in e-commerce this year run a high risk of bankruptcy. 
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Industry Trend #4
From digital to physical
Originally online-only retailer Warby Parker continues to open more brick-and-mortar locations, building the case that physical stores aren't dead.
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Industry Trend #5
Wal-Mart vs. Amazon
To compete with Amazon, Wal-Mart is reportedly working to streamline their in-store and online shopping experiences. 
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Industry Trend #6
Fast fashion
In response to shopper demands, the fashion industry has adopted a see-now buy-now retail model. 
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Industry Trend #7
Smart homes 
Analysts expect Amazon's Alexa to create even more loyal customers, adding to a list of markets the retail giant continues to penetrate.
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Industry Trend #8
Coffee overload 
Starbucks' new in-app AI ordering system is so popular that it's negatively impacting the in-store experience with an overflow of orders. 
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Industry Trend #9
Hope for department stores
Though many box store brands are closing, department stores are not dead. To thrive, they must invest in omnichannel.  
Read more

Industry Trend #10
Apple rumors

It's predicted that Apple will release the new iPhone 8 at their conference in June, marking the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone. 
Read more

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Topics: Trends

This Week at Branding Brand: Rubber Ducks, Local Coffee, and A Baby Shower


Anything is possible with a squad of rubber ducks on your desktop 😌 💯 #Inspiration #BranderLife #DeveloperLife

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Went too long without a #Coffeegram. Thanks @bigdogcoffee! 😍 ☕ #ThirstyThursday #Pittsburgh #ABranderWasHere

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Topics: Company

Weekly News Roundup: Commerce Survivors, Rolling Warehouses, Failure Learning

Weekly News Roundup

Here's what our team is reading this week... 

Commerce Survivors
Retail's survival-of-the-fittest game will be determined by digital and in-store strategy (Women's Wear Daily). Behind the scenes, AI becomes increasingly more relevant in the fashion industry (Glossy)

Rolling Warehouses
Drone-delivered packages could start coming from a new "rolling warehouse" system by UPS (Bloomberg, Inc. Magazine). The shipping technology likely won't take hold until 2020 (RetailDIVE).

Failure Learning
Department stores might be too big to succeed, but there's still potential (FORTUNE, eMarketer, RetailDIVE). Competing with Amazon's shipping model is starting to shake out as revenue loss for major players (CNBC, FORTUNE)

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Topics: Trends

Why the iGeneration Shops Retailers Other Than Amazon

Gen Z enjoys sharing their shopping experiences

There's no denying that Amazon is currently the retailer to beat. However, the iGeneration, also known as Generation Z, could be part of the motivation behind Amazon's ventures into brick-and-mortar. NRF reports that 98% of these shoppers say they prefer to purchase in-store, and with an estimated $44 billion in buying power, brands can't afford to ignore them.

Download the webinar recap for “4 Opportunities to Win in the Digital Retail World.”

Born between the mid 1990s and early 2000s, Gen Z members are digital natives—they grew up with technology and are hardwired to know how to use it. Knowing this, it would make sense if this group was Amazon-obsessed. However, reports cite an increase in demand for fresh in-store experiences, and the iGeneration is already leaving behind brands that can't adapt.

A Business of Fashion article states:

"Today's teens live out their lives on social media, where social currency is built on experiences. 'They don't want to buy stuff. They're buying an experience and the product they get through it is kind of a bonus.'" 

Purchasing on Amazon is less about creating a memorable experience and more about immediacy and convenience, which is the opposite of what Gen Z-ers are seeking. Brands unavailable on Amazon should focus on building out customer loyalty programs catered to meeting the demands of digital natives. Traditional retailers can also capitalize on Amazon's strategy by launching mobile apps that streamline the omnichannel experience.  

As a Gen Z-er myself, I'm likely to post an Instagram photo showing off my new headphones, but there's no reason to include that they're from Amazon unless I'm complaining about a problem. On the other hand, if I spent the day out shopping with friends Snapchatting and taking photos, I'm more inclined to Instagram my new purchases, detailing my experiences that day and sharing where I shopped.

In short, digital natives seek shareable experiences that the e-commerce giant can't provide—unless they're trying out Amazon Go or Amazon Books stores. Learn more about how your brand can combat Amazon and win in the ever-changing retail landscape by signing up for our upcoming webinar.


Topics: Omnichannel Trends

[PRESS] WWD: Mobile Commerce to Transform Retail From Transactional to Conversational

WWD-2-21-17.jpgSource: WWD

Women's Wear Daily included insights from Branding Brand's most recent webinar in a story about omnichannel retailing. 

Here's a clip: 

Growth prospects for integrated customer experiences are poised to rise and swift, successful transitions to omnichannel dialogs between retailers and consumers could likely determine survival of the fittest.

And most likely, that dialog (and hopefully conversions) will occur on a mobile device. Mobile commerce is pegged to garner 45 percent of total e-commerce by 2020, reaching $284 billion in sales, according to a BI Intelligence report.

The journey there is expected to be challenging as retail’s landscape has evolved into a battlefield of pure-play, bricks-and-clicks and brick-and-mortar brands. Success hinges on the adoption of emerging technologies and strategic customer communication. “Faced with a plethora of choices and communications, consumers tend to fall back on the limited set of brands that have made it through the wilderness of messages,” according to researchers at McKinsey & Co. Today, retailers are tasked with the challenge of cleverly navigating through this wilderness to connect to customers in a way that is both personal and profitable.

Omnichannel retailing underscores engagement at all levels: in-store, online, mobile and social media. Branding Brand, the largest retail app and mobile commerce platform, envisions a future led by real-time commerce — fueled by a seamless shopping experience.

“Retailers must connect all touch points in the buying journey,” a cyclical process that integrates personalization, engagement, data gathering, observation and the development of customer and associate apps, noted researchers at Branding Brand. “Even if a customer starts and ends the buying process in the same channel, there are many touch points in between when they’re researching and comparing products,” they observed.

And while those touch points are increasingly done online and via apps, physical stores still have a vital role to play. Amid store closings at The Limited, Macy’s, Office Depot, CVS and Wet Seal, there is a concurrent resurgence of brick-and-mortar store openings for digitally native pure-play brands — the likes of Amazon, Modcloth and Rent the Runway — that are ahead of the curve in their customer experience curation.

“Being able to touch and feel products at physical stores often makes customers more comfortable buying apparel and accessories. Storefronts also act as advertisements and can boost the prestige associated with a brand,” CB Insights said in a separate report.

Meanwhile, retail mobile activity has become a preferred form of engagement, with 74 percent of customers shopping in-app while waiting in store lines, according to Branding Brand. Though only 21 percent of smartphone owners had a range of three to five retail apps on their device as reported in an October 2015 comScore survey, vast improvements in the mobile sector allude to a surge of growth. “Advances in smartphone technologies, upgraded mobile networks and mobile-specific digital tools and platforms are making both mobile commerce and location-based services a reality. This, in turn, enables brands and consumers to engage with one another anytime, anywhere,” said researchers in a report from Deloitte.

Effectively, consumers now anticipate the conveniences and amenities of real-time communication, with most expecting to use shopping apps for purchasing products, tracking orders, earning rewards, accessing or saving coupons and browsing products. “Individualization means engaging in real-time by listening, measuring, assessing and addressing intent across every enterprise touch point,” Branding Brand stated. This practice marks the shift from transactional commerce to “conversational commerce.”

View on

full recap from the referenced webinar "Retailers: Are You on the Road(map) to Success?" is available below. 


Topics: Trends Media Coverage Company

This Week at Branding Brand: Love Notes to Mobile and Throwback App Icons


Dear Mobile, We appsolutely can't live without you. <3 Always, Branding Brand 😍 #LoveOnTheBrain #BranderLife

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Anyone else remember these OG app icons? 😳 #Tbt #StoneAges #BranderLife

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Topics: Company

Weekly News Roundup: Sales Boom, Fierce Competition, Zombie Retailers

Weekly News Roundup

Here's what our team is reading this week... 

Sales Boom
An indication of consumer confidence in the U.S. economy, January 2017 retail sales rose more than expected — with online retail remaining strong and on-par with its December 2016 performance (Fox Business, Bloomberg)

Fierce Competition
Walmart will streamline online and in-store buying processes to be more efficient and competitive against Amazon (Reuters). Estimates say between 65-70 million people worldwide subscribe to Amazon Prime (RetailDive).

Zombie Retailers
The Wall Street Journal reports on the roster of retailers living on borrowed time. Shifting consumer preferences to online shopping poses problems for retailers averse to investing in digital (MarketWatch, CNBC). 

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Topics: Trends

Everything You Need to Know About the "Amazon Effect"

Amazon Go store in Seattle
Source: The Verge

In today's evolving retail landscape, many brands are struggling to strike a balance between ever-changing consumer demands and the alluring appeal of new technology.

To make matters worse, traditional retailers face an uphill battle against a company that's redefining the rules of the industry: Amazon. A recent study shows that half of retailers cite Amazon as their biggest threat.

Fast Company recently declared Amazon the world's most innovative company of 2017 due to the brand's unstoppable ability to grow into other markets, remain popular with consumers, and threaten traditional retailers. This has been dubbed the "Amazon effect."

Download the webinar recap for "4 Opportunities to Win in the Digital Retail World."

What is the "Amazon effect?"

Amazon's ability to construct holistic buyer personas in an age of erratic, nonlinear consumer journeys gives them a huge advantage over brands still trying to understand their customers' online and in-store habits. 

In Fast Company's words: "Our mobile-first, on-demand world finds its roots in Amazon’s founding idea: that digital commerce will radically reshape our marketplace."

Amazon's clear understanding of the consumer enables them to create optimal user experiences in store and online as well as penetrate new markets

What makes the "Amazon effect" so powerful?

Amazon Prime is the powerhouse behind the "Amazon effect." The membership provides services shoppers demand, such as free two-day shipping, streaming content, and more, while collecting valuable data and driving sales—Prime members spend 4x more than nonmembers annually. According to Fast Company:

To truly understand how Bezos is meshing size and agility in 2017, though, you need to look beyond sales figures ($100 billion in 2015) and the stock price (up more than 300% in the past five years) and consider three initiatives that drive Amazon today: Prime, the company’s rapidly proliferating $99-per-year membership program; an incursion into the physical world with brick-and-mortar stores, something the company has long resisted; and a restless rethinking of logistics, epitomized by a new fulfillment center an hour outside Seattle that features high-tech robots working alongside human workers like a factory of the future.

Traditionally brick-and-mortar big box stores' inability to refine omnichannel, reach consumers at all touchpoints, and pinpoint a linear buyer's journey make them vulnerable to the "Amazon effect." 

How are retailers combating the "Amazon effect?"

Innovative brands are investing in 4 key areas of their digital strategy. Find out what they are in our next webinar "4 Opportunities to Win in the Digital Retail World."


Topics: Trends

[WEBINAR] 4 Opportunities to Win in the Digital Retail World

Download the webinar recap for "4 Opportunities to Win in the Digital Retail World"

Registration is closed.


This year, retailers are scrambling to figure out how to balance shoppers' demands and expectations with the impacts of the "Amazon effect" to create the ultimate digital retail strategy.

Today's always-connected customers are empowered, and their buying journeys are more complex than ever. However, retailers often find difficulty linking shoppers' various points of engagement. On the other hand, Amazon continues to creep into more and more verticals, leaving brands feeling vulnerable and wondering how to stay top-of-mind. 

Download the webinar recap for "4 Opportunities to Win in the Digital Retail World."

Join us for our next webinar on Thursday, February 23 at 1 p.m. ET where we'll discuss how forward-thinking retailers are striving toward solutions to become more competitive and customer-centric.

Branding Brand and guest speaker Forrester's Brendan Witcher will cover:
  • Where leading retailers are investing this year
  • Why there’s not a one-size-fits-all digital retail strategy
  • What you need to know before you can be successful

Registration is closed.


Topics: Trends Solutions Company Webinar

This Week at Branding Brand: Inspirational Art and Cool Stickers


The name of this conference room? You guessed it...Brandcastle 😏 💯 #BrandersDoItBetter #BBOfficeArt

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The sticker game is strong 👌 #BranderLife #DeveloperLife

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Always inspired by #Pittsburgh street art @baron_batch 😌 #Southside #BranderLife

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Topics: Company

Weekly News Roundup: Shop the Runway, iPhone 8, Accessible Eyewear

Weekly News Roundup

Here's what our team is reading this week... 

Shop the Runway
More runway brands are adapting to the see-now, buy-now model to create faster fashion (The New York Times, Glossy). Brands may not need Fashion Week (MarketWatch)

iPhone 8
OLED display, facial recognition, and wireless charging are potential features of iPhone 8 — and it might cost $1,000 (Engadget, Fast Company). It could launch on the iPhone's 10-year anniversary sales date in June, but September is more likely (Forbes).

Accessible Eyewear
Starting online and growing into brick-and-mortar is sustainable business for e-retailers; Warby Parker just opened its 47th location and 25 will pop up this year (CBS This Morning).

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Topics: Trends

How to Find Balance With Mobile Apps

Shopper using a mobile app in a retail store

In today's always-connected world, many turn to yoga or meditation to find balance, but for those in the retail industry, finding harmony between shoppers' growing demands and what's immediately possible seems more out-of-sync than ever.

This year, brands must become—or continue to be, depending on their digital business maturity—consumer-obsessed and make data-driven decisions to comply with shoppers' preferences, but there's no one size fits all strategy.

Retailers need to learn to juggle engagement, innovation, and loyalty initiatives to power omnichannel experiences that drive conversions, and though it may be too late for some, there is hope for retailers seeking balance in 2017.

The answer? Mobile apps.

Engagement: Be social, not creepy

Brands should personalize user experiences that build trust without being creepy or invasive. For example, no one enjoys being bombarded with targeted ads minutes after completing an online search. However, when using retailer apps, it’s expected that they remember details, such as nearest physical store and payment information.

Salesforce reports that 64% of shoppers enjoy looking at recommended products based on their pageviews, while 79% like to receive product offerings from retailers based on purchase history. There’s clearly a consumer demand for personalization but with limits.

NRF says:

Shoppers expect brands to understand what’s important to them. They want and demand trust; if they have a problem, they expect answers. Connecting with today’s shopper implies understanding the fierce urgency of now that prevails in their lives.

This year, retailers must make connections and establish trust with consumers through social commerce by joining in on the conversation. This past holiday, 1 in 3 shoppers said they used Facebook for gifting inspiration. In 2016, 20% of total time spent online across devices was on social networks.

Instagram’s recent shoppable photo announcement, advertisements that target consumers based on emoji use, and the current chatbot craze all build the case for social commerce in 2017. To succeed at social, brands must find a happy medium between creating organic, helpful interactions without seeming pushy or forced.

Chubbies in-app messaging and live chat
Chubbies uses an in-app messages to send entertaining social content to users from their Facebook and Instagram pages (left) and takes advantage of the live chat feature to build relationships with users (right).

With apps, retailers can engage with their customers through tools, like push notifications, in-app messaging, and live chat. 92% of app shoppers are willing to let retailers use their location, providing the perfect starting point to start personalizing the experience.

Innovation: Create for humans, not for data points

Your customers are individuals, not analytics. Brands that wield new technology without a consumer-focused approach will miss the mark in 2017. 

Parham Aarabi of ModiFace, a beauty-focused augmented reality company, said, "Technology for technology’s sake rarely works. Make sure technology is actually solving a problem. Avoid things that are gimmicky, and aim for things that feel authentic and real.”

Retailers need to find a middleground between using flashy, new technology and meeting consumer demands. In other words, this means designing integrated technological experiences with a human touch.

Here are a few examples of retailers who are embracing this:

Rebecca Minkoff

One of the pioneers of fitting room magic mirrors, tech-savvy designer Rebecca Minkoff, partnered with Samsung to broadcast a 360 virtual reality livestream of her New York Fashion show. She also partnered with Zeekit, an app that uses augmented reality to allow shoppers to virtually try on clothes.


Google and H&M recently debuted a new app that designs users a personalized “Data Dress” based on their daily activities.

Ivyrevel app
Source: TechCrunch

With AR and VR still in its infancy, it's unclear if or how this technology will make its mark in the retail industry. Does an immersive AR app or 360 VR livestream meet a specific consumer need, or does it only prove the brand is cutting edge? Regardless, we’ll see more tech partnerships as retailers seek to provide exclusive user experiences that match their brand.

Loyalty: Refine omnichannel, not only in-store experiences

Although reports continue to cite declining in-store sales, half of holiday shoppers purchased gifts in-store over last year’s Cyber Five. Retailers are responding to this by designing experiences that engage consumers throughout the nonlinear buyer’s journey.

Rose Hamilton, chief digital officer at Vitamin Shoppe, explains the company’s shift to a mobile-first strategy and how the company uses its shopping app to bring value to its customers:

“The new customer journey is not linear. They go all over the place, try different stores, try different products and places. We need to be present at every step, ready to accept them when they come back.”

Retailers must adjust their omnichannel strategy to keep up with cutting edge technology while balancing the erratic buyer’s journey. Consumers want in-store and online options, which is why omnichannel will continue to be important this year. Physical stores won’t disappear altogether, but will become more experimental—think Amazon’s line-less grocery store, which uses an app to streamline the shopping and checkout processes.

Mobile app users expect individualized experiences, which is why they’re more likely to share information with trusted brands.  Half of consumers download shopping apps at least once a month, while 66% turn to their phone to shop weekly, making them the ideal way to connect the online and in-store experiences while maintaining an ongoing relationship with shoppers.

Meet your most loyal customers where they are by providing them an in-app experience that merges the online and in-store.

Next steps

Apps are the complete package: they allow retailers to converse, customize, and experiment with new technology. In fact, 66% of companies that don’t have a mobile app saw customer loyalty decrease significantly over the past year.

Embracing new technology is crucial to remaining relevant, but the experiences must be effortless, straightforward, and tailored to the target audience. There’s unlimited potential for retailers to experiment with targeted immersive technology on mobile.

Check out our webinar recap from "Retailers: Are You on the Road(map) to Success?" to learn more about how mobile-first thinking will help your brand find zen in 2017.


Topics: Omnichannel Solutions Apps

[FREE DOWNLOAD] "Retailers: Are You on the Road(map) to Success?" Webinar Recap

"Retailers: Are You on the Road(map) to Success?" Webinar Recap

In this webinar, Branding Brand and Forrester discussed how shopping behavior is changing and how retailers are integrating digital store technology to create better omnichannel experiences.

What you'll learn:
  • How to transform the customer experience with mobile-first thinking
  • Which retailers stand out for their in-store and online shopping
  • How to personalize your experiences starting with mobile apps


Topics: Omnichannel Trends Solutions Apps Recap Company Webinar

This Week at Branding Brand: #RetailRoadmap2017, Local Donuts, and a New Brander


Enjoying @Justgooddonutspgh thanks to @nikkiorsborn! 😋 #BranderLife #PittsburghEats #🍩

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Topics: Company

Weekly News Roundup: Connected Homes, Order Pile-ups, More Free Shipping

Weekly News Roundup

Here's what our team is reading this week... 

Connected Homes
Amazon wants to win the smart home race against Apple and Google — with a strategy aimed at owning online shopping interactions that don't involve iPhones or web browsers (Business Insider, CNET)

Order Pile-ups
Starbucks locations are seeing digital orders coming in too fast to fill, hindering the in-store experiences with longer lines and wait times for customers (Reuters). The coffee retailer launched its voice-ordering AI this week (The Seattle TimesFortune).

More Free Shipping
Walmart lifted its free two-day shipping membership fee to better compete with Amazon (TechCrunch). UPS had another lackluster holiday season when it came to e-commerce order fulfillment (CNBC).

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Topics: Trends

Test Your Optimization IQ: App Credit Card Scanner

Test Your Optimization IQ

We surveyed shoppers to understand which credit card scanner is more intuitive:
  • Test A: credit card scanner button
  • Test B: credit card scanner icon

Can you guess which version people preferred when adding a credit card during checkout?

Select a test to reveal the winner:

Test A: credit card scanner button Test B: credit card scanner icon

Topics: Design Solutions Apps