Retail stores have to be responsive to trends and changes in consumers purchasing habits. In some ways, the digital revolution is changing everything quickly and it’s important that marketing budgets take the digital world and connectivity seriously. But while it may seem that retail price tags and shelf tags are a thing of the past, the reality is that shoppers are still making about 82% of their buying decisions when they’re already in the store. More than this, nearly 95% of retail sales are taking place within a brick-and-mortar space rather than online. Yet things are changing and it’s important to understand how. What is the future of retail price tags and distribution methods? How do you strengthen your brand and control messaging while balancing the different demands and preferences of a changing world? Here is some of what you need to know.

  • People see a difference between “chore” shopping and “fun” shopping. When it comes to buying necessary products, consumers are increasingly turning to subscriptions, online delivery services like Amazon or, and any other method of streamlining the routine of this chore. However, it’s important to note that the fun part of shopping–which includes the tactile and social experiences of touching products, smelling the store, listening to music, and spending time with friends and family–is just as important as it has ever been. In other words, when it comes to buying toilet paper we are happy to automate this through one-tap purchases. But when it comes to spending our money on fun and leisure, we want to wander around looking at retail price tags and feeling the merchandise.
  • Keep an eye on electronic shelf labels. These are just starting to appear, but when big-box retailers start to deploy them you can expect them to catch on quickly. The electronic shelf label provides an excellent return on investment because of the streamlining it provides as well as reduced risk of human error that can show up when you’re dealing with other forms of retail price tags. The multicolor displays allow for better advertising and in the future could even be integrated with big data to allow messages to be tailored to particular consumers as they look at products.
  • The end of the line? The shopping experience has always been about standing in line to make a purchase. The invention of the self-checkout kiosk has done a lot to minimize time spent standing in line, but in the future, it’s possible that new apps will allow consumers to simply scan items and pay for them as they put them in their cart and then walk right out of the store without ever seeing a line.
  • Social media will become even more important. Retail brands that invest in excellent social media strategy will definitely reap the rewards soon. Messenger apps are changing how customers interact with the stores they shop from, and they’re looking for more than just some photos and updates on a sale or two. Instead, consumers want to interact and engage on social media with their favorite retailers and brands.
  • Big data is changing the game. Machine learning and big data are getting more and more efficient at integrating data from consumers to improve marketing, operations, and customer experience. Big data information also allows for much better understanding of how products are selling so that everything from online sales to retail price tags can be adjusted in real time to match the need of the moment.
  • The environment is important to everyone. Well, perhaps not every single person. But there’s no denying that the average consumer is far more mindful today of what they’re purchasing and how that purchase affects the Earth than they ever were in the past. People want products that are good for the environment, good for them, and also responsibly sourced and sustainable. This provides a lot of opportunity for retailers to emphasize health and nutrition as well as sustainability and social programs.

The future is bright for retail in the digital age is not destroying brick-and-mortar platforms but rather giving them a new lease on life. Big data is changing the game, but for those who can adapt there’s still plenty of money to be made.

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