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8 Ways Retail & Logistics Will Change in 2019

The mall is cool again and drones still won't happen.

Looking ahead...

As we close the book on another year of major retail disruptions, store closures, shifting consumer expectations, and shopping habits, it’s clear that the world of retail, and the logistics that power it, has changed.

In 2019, expect the pace of change to increase. As new technologies emerge, brands and retailers have more and more opportunities to innovate, surprise, and delight their customers with revamped in-store experiences and omnichannel options that make it even easier to shop wherever they are. We decided to dig into the retail and logistics trends that we see shaping the coming year.

Read our full predictions, or download the PDF from here >>

Here are the top retail and logistics predictions to watch in 2019:

  1. Retailers find an Amazon workaround
  2. Stores make a comeback
  3. Brands get personal with their delivery promises
  4. The unboxing experience gets the attention it deserves
  5. People, not tech, will make the difference
  6. Supply chains get flexible
  7. The mall is cool again, seriously
  8. Eco-friendly supply chains become the standard

1. Retailers find an Amazon workaround

For retailers, the threat of Amazon is always looming. Rather than competing with it or selling on its platform, many brands are seeking ways to avoid it altogether. We explore how today’s top retailers are building strategies to circumvent the retail giant.

Turns out, not every purchase is about the speed of delivery, it's about selling customers on a lifestyle. Digitally native brands like Glossier, Brandless, and Reformation are finding their niche by building brands that inspire their shoppers, breed loyalty, and concentrate sales through their respective websites.

The result? These retailers are making a name for themselves, building a strong and loyal customer base, and maintaining control over their entire customer experience and customer data.

Prediction: Retailers and brands will continue to refine their retail strategies to not only avoid Amazon, but grow in spite of it.

2. Stores make a comeback

Shoppers have high demands, especially when they choose to go to your store. Over the last few years, we've seen major department stores enhance the in-store experience through pop-up shops, partnerships, and revamped store spaces. The store has officially been brought back to life.

Even digitally native brands are beginning to expand into physical stores. For brands like Glossier, Everlane, and Casper, retail has become the biggest potential growth channel—providing them with an opportunity to connect with customers that digital just can’t match.

Prediction: More eCommerce brands will open physical retail spaces to connect with their customers.

3. Brands get personal with their delivery promises

How can brands compete in the age of ever-increasing delivery promises? Same-, next-, and two-day delivery are no longer enough. Not when Amazon will deliver to the trunk of your car. The answer? Offer more options.

In 2019, more retailers will get creative with their delivery promises—providing buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) options and using customer data to tailor their offerings to their specific audience.

Prediction: Retailers will get smarter about their delivery promises, offering more options based on customer data.

4. The unboxing experience gets the attention it deserves

Packaging has become more than just a throwaway vessel for products. With the proliferation of eCommerce, retailers are realizing that packaging is often the first tangible experience customers will have with your brand. It needs to make a good first impression.

The unboxing experience will become a key point of differentiation for brands and retailers—providing a unique and personalized touchpoint that often goes underutilized.

Prediction: More retailers will enhance the unboxing experience.

5. People, not tech, will make the difference

There’s a lot of hype around tech in the retail and supply chain industries, but the robots aren’t taking over just yet. Companies still need the people behind the tech, and their role is becoming more important than ever before.

The demand for skilled, forward-looking supply chain professionals is high and will only continue to grow. 2019 will be the year of the supply chain professional.

Prediction: We’ll see record growth in supply chain employment, with supply chain and retail professionals becoming the next software engineers—sought after and paramount to transformation efforts across retail categories.

6. Supply chains get flexible

Traditionally, supply chains have been anything but flexible. They were designed to support static businesses with centralized demand. But the times have changed and so have supply chains.

How do you support omnichannel shipping options like BOPIS? What happens if a huge influx of orders comes in and overwhelms your warehousing and fulfillment system? Innovations like autonomous vehicles and on-demand warehousing are helping supply chains become more flexible and responsive than ever before.

Prediction: Retailers and brands will ruthlessly invest in new, innovative technologies to increase structural flexibility in their supply chains.

7. The mall is cool again, seriously

Why are consumers heading back to the mall when they could just shop online from the comfort of their homes? The experience.

Millennials are thought to have created the “experience economy.” They value experiences more than things and malls are finally capitalizing on it.

Modern malls are curating experiential spaces that consumers actually want to spend time in. They’re hosting community events, embracing local businesses, and giving priority to restaurants and services, dedicating just 35% of space to retail.

Prediction: More malls will shift their focus to emphasize value-based brands, locally-driven offerings, and services that better cater to surrounding communities.

8. Eco-friendly supply chains become the standard

Sustainability in supply chains is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a necessity. One-third of firms worldwide are targeting more sustainable supply chains and new technologies are going to help them get there.

The best part, being eco-friendly is good for the bottom line. Consumers are demanding more sustainably-made products and supply chain transparency. Brands like Everlane and Girlfriend Collective have embraced sustainability and have made it part of their brand ethos. They understand that customers want—and will pay for—sustainably-made products.

Prediction: Even more retailers get on board with recycling, collaborative logistics, and innovation to increase sustainability in their supply chains.

For more on what to expect in 2019, download the 8 Retail & Logistics Predictions for 2019 whitepaper, and check back with the FLEXE blog in the coming year to see how these predictions play out.

You might also be interested in:

  1. Blog: Your Brand Deserves Modern Logistics, Don’t You Think?
    Learn how you can enhance your customer experience through upping the ante on your packaging and eCommerce fulfillment strategy.

  2. Blog: Modernizing eCommerce Logistics: From Startups to the Fortune 1000. Join Walmart, Woodfield Distribution, and FLEXE in this panel from 2018 CSCMP EDGE.

  3. Future of Supply Chain: The Old Supply Chain: That System Is Broken and We’re Not Fixing It. Tina Sharkey, CEO of Brandless, discusses the type of supply chain needed to match today’s dynamic business. The answer looks a lot different than traditional solutions.