A look at Sephora’s “Virtual Artist” app, which allows users to try on lipstick colors, lashes, and full looks across a range of brands. (Photo: AR Post)



As we close the books on the busiest shopping season of the year, it’s time to look ahead at what’s in store (pun intended) for retail this year.


  1. Retail providing unique experiences, not just services: Gone are the days that consumers only go into a Brick & Mortar store with the expectation to buy an item. While consumers still leverage traditional stores to serve that role, consumers are also looking for unique experiences within retailers when they opt to shop in person vs. online. When consumers go into Sephora, many are looking to experience the products by way of makeovers and sampling. It’s important retailers offer these types of experiences as it creates opportunities to develop more engaging ways to build affinity and loyalty between shoppers and retailers.


  1. Smart learning for smart retailers: We’re in the age of machine learning and if retailers haven’t embraced these new technologies, they’ll likely spend 2019 playing catch-up. AI (artificial intelligence) is playing an integral role in how retailers operate in back-end capacity, supporting warehouse and inventory logistics as well as integrating within in-home technologies to enhance the consumer experience in stores based on voice-recognition data. This will pave the way for more seamless customer shopper journeys that might start at home and end up at a Sephora, enhanced through AI and smart learning devices and being integrated into how that consumer shops in-store.


  1. Cash is no longer king: 2019 promises many new ways for consumers to make purchases, through various technology platforms and offerings. Included within that are platforms that offer payment plans and structures, paving way for consumers to make bigger purchases and spreading payments over a longer duration. Mobile phones are becoming a one-stop-shop when it comes to making payments, which means that a device in a consumer’s hand can capture content, promote the retail experience through social media and be a consumer’s wallet with payment apps.


  1. Augmented reality brings the store to consumers’ homes: Retailers (both Brick & Mortar as well as e-commerce) are reviving augmented reality technology to help consumers make purchasing decisions, especially for larger furniture items. These technologies help consumers see how products will look in-home, which supplements the in-person components of trying and experiencing these items in-store.


  1. Using storefronts as a service: WeWork has a huge community of members and its latest venture, WeMrkt, is allowing its community to sell their goods while also creating a marketplace for its members based on social purpose purchase drivers. Expect to see more of these concepts in 2019 which check multiple consumer boxes by leveraging the millennial’s inclination to shop brands that align with their goals, along with new and innovative methods of presenting and recreating the in-store retail experience.


MORGAN Li can help you build the retail experience of the future with displays that draw shoppers in and encourage them to buy.