Top Digital Retail Trends for 2019

Top Digital Retail Trends for 2019

Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, Consultant


Coming off of a hot holiday season, the retail sector is looking to keep sales strong over the course of the year.  Some common trends have emerged recently in the ways retailers are trying to reach their customers, mostly involving the use of mobile and new technologies – no surprise there.  Whether you’re in the biz, or just a consumer, here are the top 4 trends to know about in 2019.   


Improved Tech

The focus for many retailers these days is on mobile.  Convenience and ease of purchase are of the utmost importance to consumers making a purchase.  In 2019, eMarketer expects smartphone sales will grow 37.9% year over year and will account for 76% of mobile spending.  Therefore, we can expect to see better performing apps, enticing customers to turn more readily to their phones.  


Voice commerce technology continues to grow and improve as more people start to ask Alexa to buy stuff for them.  According to Digitas, consumers most receptive to smart speaker purchases may be using it most to replenishing stocks of health, beauty and personal care items.  Some experts also predict more in-car smart speakers will come into use, offering a chance for retailers to capitalize during commuting times.  Cashierless checkout and BOPIS (buy online, pay in-store), already poised to grow more, could really take off if it starts to tie into voice purchases.


Also, social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are now offering better environments for shopping, while reaching a large audience of trend-setter and trend-followers.


Retail as a Service

Retailers have been moving toward a more personalized experience for shoppers.  Accenture and the Retail Industry Leaders Association released data earlier this year that showed 63% percent of consumers indicated that they were interested in personalized recommendations, while 64% revealed they were willing to share personal data in exchange for benefits like loyalty points and automatic credits for coupons.  Consumers want more of an entertaining, interactive experience, especially when shopping online.  A great example of this is Nike, who is offering “design your own” options to provide custom, personalized apparel.


Furthermore, businesses are developing better methods of analyzing the tremendous amounts of data they are able to amass from consumers.  They will be able to better target each individual with suggestions as you are actively browsing through a website.  Consumers want more than just customized emails in their inboxes.    



Building on the “shopping as an experience” trend, retailers are increasingly turning to immersive technologies such as artificial reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).  Research from Gartner projects that 100 million consumers will shop in augmented reality come 2020.  This kind of technology can be incorporated into smartphones, as well as in-store.  Having the ability to see how you would look with a certain hair color or checking out how your living room would look with new furniture before you buy is not only useful, but also kind of fun for the shopper.  It’s sort of a digital “try before you buy” concept, which may lead to more sales in the long-run since it may build more confidence to actually make the purchase.


Success of the DTC Model

Direct to consumer (DTC) brands have been a force to be reckoned with in the recent past.  And their continued success is starting to dictate how older, established retailers are conducting their business.  Walmart, Target, Ikea and others are realizing the success of digitally native brands and understanding that they need to incorporate more digital elements in their marketing strategies.


In contrast, DTC brands are taking a step toward the more traditional model, understanding that there is a lot to be gained from offline business too.  Companies like Warby Parker (eyewear) and Casper (mattresses) are opening brick-and-mortar stores.  Brands within the category are slated to open nearly 850 physical stores over the next five years, according to a report on over 100 top online retailers from commercial real estate firm JLL.  New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are among the most popular locations for brands to experiment with pop-up shops and permanent stores.


It will be interesting to see what trends really take off and evolve over the next few years.  As the retail landscape continues to change, I’m sure we will see even more new developments that no one can even anticipate yet.


Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting.  She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments.  She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, two lovable little boys and two snuggly Golden Retrievers.