You know what they say: no one can predict the future. But with enough information and industry experience, it’s possible to give it a shot. For instance, for someone familiar with the irresistible march of computer progress, the endless trek toward miniaturization and portability, the iPhone surely didn’t come out of nowhere. And after its predictable success, it must have been pretty easy to predict that smartphones would eventually replace ordinary cell phones and landlines.
Retail trends are a lot more complex, but it’s still possible to make educated guesses about which areas are likely to grow in 2017. Here are our predictions:
It’s no secret that we’re living in a precarious time. With climate change more and more becoming an accepted reality, increasing numbers of consumers are starting to consider the value of sustainability and green energy. In 2017, we will continue to see growth in sectors relating to sustainability: from Tesla Motors to solar panels to reusable shopping bags, expect major growth in sustainable industries. Likewise, it’s logical to expect more and more marketing being used to tout a company’s sustainability chops, from its use of green energy to its charitable contributions to its products’ recyclability.
Growth of mobile payment
The launch of Apple Pay in 2014 just confirmed what many had suspected for a long time: mobile payment is the future. Though the stumbling, premature launch of Google Wallet made doubters out of many, there were just too many indications that phone payment was the future. More secure and faster than paying with a credit card, and with lower fees for retailers, mobile payment, when done right, just makes sense. As far as many retailers are concerned, the increased ability to track and analyze consumer spending habits are just icing on the cake. Expect this sector to expand in 2017.
The further development and sophistication of AI programs and data analysis promises big benefits for retail, both online and off. This goes far beyond Amazon’s “customers also looked at” advertisements and into AI-powered, predictive algorithms. In the future, AIs will help retailers with everything from knowing when to restock key items to analyzing and predicting future consumer behavior.
Crowdsourced service and delivery
A notable side effect of the new economy is the “Uber everything” expectation. More than ever, consumers expect products and services to appear at the touch of a button—and crowdsourcing provides the solution to this. In the retail space, crowdsourcing has a number of interesting applications; Mila’s partnership with Swiss electronic retailer Interdiscount is a prime example of this. Mila’s Friends and Pros—vetted tech support technicians from your area—are the ideal way to bring a new electronics purchase home, because they have the know-how to install and initialize it, bundling the delivery with the installation. Retailers can offer this as a value-added service, consumers don’t need to worry about the hassle of installation, and everyone wins.
The future of retail
Though the future is impossible to predict, watching and extrapolating current trends can help tremendously with the task of accounting for future changes. Many of 2016’s growth industries are sure to continue to grow and expand in 2017, but if we were going to put money on it, we’d bet on sustainability, mobile payments, AI integration, and crowdsourced service and delivery.