“If 2017 was the year of the retail apocalypse, then 2018 could be the year of a retail renaissance,” says Forbes.

“The signs are promising,” continues Forbes, “retailers have come through a time of trial, and many of the ones that have survived have made the necessary adjustments to align with evolving consumer needs and desires.”

If you’re still trying to figure out what you can do to meet your customers’ needs and desires this year, read on for expert insights on where to focus your efforts.

Here’s what the experts are predicting for retailers in 2018:

“In 2018, retailers will realign their businesses with the needs and desires of customers, who are driven today not by a passion to acquire more things but by a deep desire for more experiences. Retailers will work to give them those experiences.” Forbes

“In the past, it was the retailer who determined what a customer should want to buy and how they should shop. Today, it’s the customer who is defining the shopping experience. – Walter Loeb, president, Loeb Associates Inc.

“…[R]etailers need to start giving time-starved consumers a reason to travel and shop in-person. – Marcia Layton Turner, founder and executive director, the Association of Ghostwriters

“Shoppers will return to Main Street in 2018. This trend is fueled by the desire of the highest-potential and highest-spending customers’ passion for a new shopping experience that they can’t find online, at the mall, in the national chains or in big box stores. Owners of small retail shops often feel overwhelmed by the rapidly changing retail environment, with competition on all sides and most especially from Amazon. But small business retailers have a competitive advantage that none of these bigger, better capitalized and techno-powered retailers have: their personal touch. It is realized not just through the personal service that specialty retailers offer, but by being vital members of the local community. This trend will reshape the retail landscape over the next decade.” – Pamela Danziger, president, Unity Marketing

“In 2018, the emphasis will be on experimenting with new business models, seeing what works, stopping what doesn’t and do more of what does — whether it’s FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands building or acquiring more direct-to-consumer capabilities/businesses or high-street retailers launching subscription businesses. Be it personalization of product or personalization of customer experience, this will continue to be a key retail trend in 2018. We know that today’s customers are placing a lot more emphasis and importance on experiences, and this doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.” – Rupa Ganatra, founding partner, Millennial 20/20

“The challenge we see is that more and more retailers need to integrate the physical world with the digital world.Dirk Izzo, Senior Vice President of the Industry Solutions Group at NCR

“Consumers are in charge of trends. It’s a brand’s responsibility to recognize those trends and to feed them. Brands and retailers don’t create trends anymore, consumers do.” — Matt Powell, NPD Group

The Takeaway

According to a study by Mood Media, consumers view shopping as entertainment, with 48% mentioning the ability to browse and discover new things as an important reason for visiting physical store locations.

In other words, shoppers are looking for experiences.

Apparently, that aspect of retail hasn’t really changed much in over 100 years. But don’t take our word for it. Retail magnate, Harry Selfridge, founder of the London-based department store, Selfridges, understood the concept of customer experience way back in 1908:

“Excite the mind and the hand will reach for the pocket.” ~ Harry SelfridgeClick To Tweet

Use the expert predictions above to align your store’s customer experience strategy with evolving consumer needs and desires and they’ll automatically “reach for the pocket.”

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and the eBook The Small retailer's Ultimate Guide to Increasing In-Store Sales. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with other small business owners through informative articles that address their unique needs.


Also published on Medium.

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