16 Predictions for Retail Trailblazers in 2019

It’s that time of year again where we whip out the magic 8-ball, summon the spirits and lay down some exciting predictions for the year ahead.

Ok, I must admit. I haven’t pulled my predictions out of thin air. The following are trends, backed by cold hard facts, research, and the kind of intuition that comes from working in the industry for 5-10-15 years…oh who’s counting!

So here it is, Milk It Academy’s Top predictions for retail trailblazers in 2019!

Key Takeaways:

So without further ado, let’s get into it!

Email Marketing Will Become Fluid and Flexible 

It’s no secret that email marketing is the favourite child in our digital marketing family. It’s consistent, hardworking and stays out of mischief (we’re looking at you Facebook).

BUT if we had to pick a flaw, just one, it would be that traditional email marketing can be a little rigid. Everything runs smoothly so long as a user follows your carefully pre-planned journey, which as we know, happens rarely. Every customer is unique and in 2019 our email marketing will reflect that!

In 2019 ‘fluid segments’ will make the process of following users through their unique customer journeys a whole lot more intuitive. Fluid segments allow us to move users in and out of segments as their behaviour, both online and in-store, changes. Not only does this accommodate for where they are in their journey but it predicts where they’re going. Magic!

Start now: Brainstorm the fluid segments you could create in your lists. Example: ‘Repeat customers who haven’t purchased in over 3 months’ or ‘Subscribers who are yet to purchase’.

Punchy Personality Over Fake News and Clickbait

I’ll keep this tip short and sweet, because if the latest trends in email copy are anything to go by…that’s just how you want it!

In 2019, the battle for consumer attention will reach new peaks. Consumers will call it quits with clickbait and controversy, opting for brands that respect their precious time and attention.

Man typing funny word on typewriter
How not to write your emails…

Our 2019 copywriting mantra is ‘Less is more…until it comes to personality then, more is more!’ WOW your subscribers with clever personalisation (No, ‘Hey FIRST NAME’ won’t cut it!) and practice the art of saying more with less.

Start now: Take a look at one of your recent emails. Is the subject line less than 60 characters? Body copy less than 150 words? CTA above the fold (without scrolling)? If not, you know what to do!

Search Will Go Beyond Google 

Search is Google, Google is search, right? Well…not so much!

Let me just say, I don’t think Bing and Yahoo are about to make a Steven Bradbury comeback, HOWEVER, Google certainly isn’t the only ‘search engine’ you should be giving attention to. SEO is a necessary skill for all businesses and that extends to each and every website that has search capabilities. This includes Amazon, eBay, Youtube, even Facebook. 2019 will be the year to rid ourselves of ‘Google Tunnel Vision’ and pay attention to SEO on other platforms.

Start now: What search-enabled platforms is your business on? We’d recommend putting an hour aside to research best practice and put together a checklist to help you ace your SEO strategy for each platform algorithm.

Optimising For Search Intent

Yep, another search trend, we’re on a roll!

If you know a thing or two about SEO you would understand that Google delivers results based on specific keywords in the search query. Now…we’re can’t tell you exactly what changes Google will make to their algorithm in 2019, but a look at recent trends would suggest they will go beyond keywords and start focussing more on search intent.

Google breaks intent into three categories;

  • Navigational = “Dominos Pizza Melbourne” – The intent is to locate a specific website, location or resource.
  • Informational = “Pizza ingredients” – The intent is to find information that could be on a number of sites.
  • Transactional = “Order online pizza” = The intent is to purchase or perform a web-based action.

In 2018 Google released ‘Intent Audiences’ to help better distinguish between user intent and we believe that this will continue to be a large focus of their algorithm updates in 2019.

Start now: Is your paid advertising and SEO strategy purely transactional? Find ways to incorporate research and local search in your strategy.

Data Privacy Uncertainties Will Trigger the Second Coming of Email Marketing

2018 had its fair share of data security scandals. There was the Facebook sh*tstorm, the shock GDPR announcement, and even Google had a slip-up….it was only the personal data of 52.5 million Google+ users, no biggie right? 

I’ll quote Kylie Jenner in saying 2018 was a year of “realising stuff”. Realising that ‘this website uses cookies’ isn’t referring to baked treats. Realising that there’s big money in ‘big data’. And even, realising that giving out your personal data willy-nilly probably isn’t the best idea.

Kylie Jenner "Realising Things" Meme

We will be a whole lot smarter with our data in 2019, and as a result, we can see consumers retreating to email marketing as it is one of the few platforms that gives users complete control over their preferences.

Start now: Data security is a growing concern among many consumers and do we blame them? NOPE! We will have a blog about the Australian GDPR (or poor excuse of…) coming out soon, however until then, how are you keeping your user’s data safe? Could you do better?

Voice Search…Yes, It’s Still On the Rise!

Now I know what you’re thinking, ‘Hasn’t voice search been on your ‘trends’ blog for the past two years’….ya got me!

Yes, voice search has been ‘on the rise’ for a few years now, but that doesn’t mean we should disregard its importance. Look at it this way, it’s not going to be something take will take off overnight like fidget spinners or Pokemon Go. But it’s certainly taking hold. According to a new study from Adobe, almost half of American households own a smart speaker. That’s almost half of the consumer population that will be utilising the powers of voice search!

It’s going to take time just like mobile optimisation did [correction] *STILL IS* taking its damn time, but undeniably the businesses that start working on their voice strategy today are going to have a far better runway to success.

Start now: Keep it on your radar and start evolving your content or risk falling behind the 8-ball. Don’t say we didn’t warn youRead this blog, Voice Search: Is Your Local Marketing Strategy In Tune?

Oh Hey There Supply Chain, We See You!

Saying your brand is ‘Australian-Made’ when really you just assemble foreign-made parts in a local workshop? Nope. Selling a shirt for $80 that was made by a severely underpaid sweat-shop worker? Um, no thank you! Claiming you’re cruelty-free when you’re not? HOW DARE YOU!

Once upon a time, the supply chain was a very mysterious, shady place. As long as the final product rocked up on time, looked good, and worked as it should, no one questioned the behind the scenes. Well thankfully, things are a-changin’.

Sneaky cat caught rummaging through draw

More so than ever before consumers are holding brands to account. They’ve wanted full supply chain transparency for years, and in 2019, they’ll EXPECT it.

The push for transparency will have a domino effect. Consumers will expect more from retails and in turn, retailers will expect more from their manufacturers. Emerging fin-tech such as blockchain and crypto-currency will be a huge driver behind the push for supply chain transparency. It will become increasingly difficult for international manufacturers to deceive retailers which will HOPEFULLY see a stop to the outsourcing of already outsourced work (yes it happens), dangerous counterfeiting, and misuse of our ‘Australian Made’ green and gold kangaroo.

Start now: Pull back the curtain a little in 2019. Brands that openly share where a product is sourced, how it is made, or even, the process of picking and packing in the warehouse, are far more trustworthy than those who lurk in the shadows.

Micro-Warehouses Will Be the Future

And they’re about to make shipping times a whole lot shorter…YAY!

In 2018 Cue and Shippit implemented a beyond clever ‘endless aisle initiative’ that allowed online customers to shop directly from in-store inventory.

Cue adopted the new strategy is a bid to meet their recently launched three-hour delivery and 30-minute click and collect services and let me tell you, we totally dig it! It’s like Uber Eats, but for clothes and other goods. Aa seamless omnichannel shopping experience. What’s not to love?

And if you’re questioning whether it would make much of a difference, just take a look at their results below!

Cue and Shippit Endless Aisle Initiative

You don’t need to be a brick and mortar retailer to follow in the steps of Cue and Shippit. Australia may be the smallest continent, but we are still a relatively big country, with vast deserts, forests and long strips of barren highway between our major cities. If you live in Sydney or Melbourne you won’t have much to complain about, however, those in rural Australia and our more isolated cities would understand the frustration of lengthy shipping times.

As a great way to reduce your shipping times is to consider third-party warehouses so that you can ship from multiple locations. The faster you can get your products out the better. Take Kogan for example, they’re selling products even when the ship is still crossing the sea.

Start Now: You may not have the resources to completely overall your delivery services but any time you can cut is extremely valuable. Is it possible to ship from multiple locations across Australia? Cut your packing time in the warehouse? Print shipping labels in-store? Just a few things to think about!

P.S. Appliances Online is another retailer really amping up their store-to-door experience. Their NPS (Net promoter score) is sky high because they can deliver to your door within an hour time window.

Bots Will Infiltrate Social Media…Big Time!

Only 47 per cent of Americans ‘somewhat confident’ they can identify social media bots from real humans [The Verge]…and let’s be honest, we can’t really blame them!

Bots and becoming far smarter and more intuitive with time. In 2018 we saw brands begin to use them or social listening, reputation management and transactional notifications, and we can definitely see this trend continuing into 2019!

It’s important to note that bots need to have a purpose beyond selling your products. Are they actually helpful? Can they supply customised information? Help consumers with their research?

Start now: There are tonnes of inexpensive (sometimes free) chatbots you can implement on your website. We recommend checking out the Facebook Messenger Plugin.

Air Bnb Mobile Facebook Messenger Bot

Step Aside Kardashians, We Are in the Era of ‘Micro-Influencers’ 

Keeping Up With the Kardashians  Your Customers!

2019 will be the year where brands stop chasing big name #Influencers and look for opportunity within their own audience. Micro-influencers, are customers who act as advocates for your brand. They participate in your user-generated content campaigns, share your social posts, or even, talk about you on their YouTube channel.

They’re not mega-stars with millions of followers or a reality TV show to their name. They are just regular people, with audiences as big as the tens of thousands or as little as a couple hundred, who love your product and want to share it with their friends.

Identify these people in your audience and find unique ways to enhance your relationship with them. Working with them to create genuine, personalised content, will arguably build more trust than any big name could.

Start now: Read the blog, CEO Series: Talking Influencer Marketing with the CEO of Scrunch.

Artificial Intelligence and the Neverending Customer’s Journey 

When we think about the rise of AI, futuristic robots or Marty Mcfly’s hover-board are often the first things that come to mind. In fact, did you know Facebook recently had to shut down their AI program when two robots started developing their own language 

Marty Mcfly back to the future hover-board

The truth is, AI is everywhere and its uses are far more practical than those envisioned in 80’s action, or end of the world robot-apocalypse films. It’s on websites, in-store, on social media and hidden in our smartphones. We use it at work, in our home, at the gym, even in the cold wildness of Antarctica.  In 2019 we’ll continue to see more advanced applications of AI and machine learning, used to not only to organise and understand big data, but also in advertising and for the betterment of the overall customer experience.

AI will start to automate small, but super important, marketing decisions such as programmatic ad bidding, image selection and ad placement. We are also very impressed by its early implementation in email marketing!

We will use AI and machine learning to truly understand and decompress our customer journey marketing through channels.

Start now: AI isn’t only reserved for the businesses with a million dollar innovation budget. There are plenty of ways businesses, of any size, can start using AI to optimise the customer experience. Check out this blog by business.com ‘How AI Can Transform Your Small Business’.

Retailers Will Sell Experiences In-Store 

You’d think with the remarkable evolution of online shopping physical stores would be a barren wasteland by now.

Fast forward to 2025 there will be rolly-pollies passing through the aisles of David Jones and TV’s will sit untouched, gathering dust in JB Hi-Fi…well, not quite. BUT, there will be changing expectations!

Retailers will be expected to not only sell products in-store, but they’ll also need to sell experiences. To make a store more than a transactional space, but a destination of kinds. For example, Lululemon hosts fitness classes in store, Mecca has weekly ‘Beauty Lab’ workshops or even, Kiki K hosts wedding planning workshops. It will be all about tactical experiences that involve product in or service in 2019, and it’s up to you to step up to the mark.

Start now: Don’t have a store? No worries! Think about how you can engage customers with experiences online or in person. Could you offer a styling seminar? Host a motivational speaker?

IoT and In-Store Technology

Another in-store trend we expect to see take hold in 2019 is the use of the IoT technology in-store. Some examples of this could include:

  • Heatmap technology – Where are the hotspots for foot traffic in-store?
  • Automated Check-outs – Think self-serve but one step further – check this out! 
  • Connected devices – In-home technology such as printers that know to order their own ink or coffee machines that automatically replenish the pods stash when it’s running low.
  • Proximity Marketing – Bluetooth beacons used to send push notifications to shoppers in-store.
Infographic How Beacon Technology Works

There’s nothing new about this kind of technology, we will just understand how to use it a little better in 2019. This year will be all about mastering the art of, stable emerging technology and closing the gap between in-store and online data By using strategic tech-stacks and the combination of in-store and online data we can drastically change the experience of a customer when they leave the store. We can send them communication about restocked items, online only sales and post-purchase reviews. The possibilities are endless!

Start now: You don’t need to be in big business to implement IoT technology. Read this blog by Business.com about How IoT Technology Can Help Your Business Work Smarter.

Company Culture Matters…and Will Continue To! 

‘Get cultured or risk going under’ will be a common sentiment held by both staff and consumers in 2019!

Consumers care about far more than price, product, even customer service. They want to buy from businesses that share their values and stand for something beyond profit and fame. Some of our older brands are not aging so well and it’s not because they haven’t got a great product selection or they don’t offer great prices. It’s simply because they are rejecting the cultural norms that consumers have come to expect.

This includes things like supply chain transparency, fair pay for fair work, staff happiness, involvement in the community and work with charitable organisations.

Start now: Have you recently checked in with their staff? Do a climate survey, ask; how your people are? How long they have been working there? Do they have any ideas to improve happiness that need validating? And open yourself up for honest feedback!

This comes with a warning! A ‘Climate Survey’ shouldn’t be done to merely tick a box. Climate surveys suck if you don’t have a plan to share the insights and apply feedback. They’re not designed to stroke your ego!

Businesses Will Take NPS Seriously

Are your customers satisfied with the service you provide?

If you have never heard of this mysterious acronym then perhaps check out our blog 3 Crucial Customer Loyalty Metrics first. Basically, NPS (Net Promoter Score) is the best and most efficient way of measuring your customer’s satisfaction, and in 2019 it will be the bee’s knees!

You're the bee's knees cartoon

And if you’re wondering the 2018 NPS benchmarks for Retail in Australia Retail is Instore +14 Retail Online+ 24 — can you beat that?

Start now: If you’ve never run your own NPS, but want to, be sure to focus on these three core elements 1. Get your data right 2. Send the survey out the right time in your customer’s journey 3. Always finish with a follow-up and thank you.

Customer Experience Will Outweigh Price as the Key Brand Differentiator

I’ve saved the best for last…

Vision Critical have predicted this will occur in 2020, but after some thought, we put our bets on it happening a little earlier.

The number one question we get asked by our bigger retailers goes a little like this, “Our margins are tight so we can’t be on sale 24/7 . How can we keep a consistent flow of customers without relying on sales? It feels constant these days… click frenzy, Black Friday, stocktake, flash sales! We need something consistent!”

Marketers are paying more attention than ever on the customer’s experience (CX). They see the importance of adding value at every point of the customer’s journey and no longer rely on flash sales and price cuts as a bandaid for customer dissatisfaction. Consumers are looking for far more than a great price and our marketing in 2019 needs to reflect that.

It starts with a cleansing of data and system integration for fluid CX online and off. How can we move from transactional CX triggers to more strategic using AI, NPS, to add value? Rather than our once a year ‘Hey can you give some feedback’. How can we add value during the research stage? What experiences are we offering in-store to up the ante?

Start now: All of the above technologies and innovations are great and if you haven’t already noticed they’ve got one big thing in common…it all relates back to CX! Has your business given thought to how you’re optimising your CX? Have you mapped out your touchpoints and looked for gaps? If you don’t know where to start, start with CX, and start today!

Pick a time for a 15-minute Mini-Session with one of our CX experts! 

The tricky thing with trends is it’s hard to know where you should focus your energy time. I’m not going to lie. Some of these innovations take time, energy and money to implement so you certainly can’t act on them all at once.

Do you need help understanding what basket or baskets you should be putting your eggs in? Remember there’s no harm in asking for an outsiders opinion. Do your research, look at what the trailblazers in your industry are doing and if you need someone to bounce ideas off, we are all ears!! We hope you liked the blog and, if you have any questions shoot us an email at enquiries@milkit.com.au

Did you think we’d forgotten the 2019 promotional calendar? Oh hell no! 

As a business owner, marketer or sales professional, you’re expected to remember 101 promotional events in a year. While you’re campaign planning weeks, or even months, ahead! 

It’s time to take the reactiveness out of campaign planning and get you back to doing what you do best—creating and innovating.  

We’ve created this calendar so you can see your promotional year at a glance. This means less, ‘Holy moly it’s Fathers Day this week! Better slap something together’, and more, ‘Hey team, let’s start discussing our lead-up strategy’.  

‘Those who fail to plan plan to fail’…yada yada, you get the point. Now get out there and make 2019 your best year yet!

Download our Ecommerce Marketing Calendar

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