Seven big retail trends for small businesses to look out for

By Jake Martin

3 min read

Over the last decade, retail has changed massively and continues to do so. Small business retailers must adapt in order to thrive and survive and the good news is that many have the flexibility and creativity to do this – these are some key retail trends to look out for this year and beyond.

1. Changing high street

A recent study by Simply Business revealed that the high street has transformed over the past few years, reflecting changing consumer tastes and shopping habits.

It’s out with the traditional high street mainstays like chip shops, sports retailers, florists and pet shops and in with more specialist and boutique outlets like craft suppliers, coffee shops, restaurants and boutique bakeries.

2. Pop-up shopping

Pop-up shops and markets are increasingly springing up across the UK, giving small, independent designers and businesses a platform for their products, while bringing something fresh and new to the shopping landscape.

Pop-up shops offer flexibility so they can be a great way to test a new location or product, or to dip your toe into taking an online business to the high street. Meeting customers face-to-face will also enable you to get feedback on your products and let buyers experience your wares first-hand.

Check out our article on how to get involved as a pop-up retailer.

3. Mobile payments

Customers expect to have options for how they pay these days – only accept cash and you could lose out. Research suggests that mobile payments will really come of age and become mainstream in 2013, which means small retailers should gear themselves up now to give customers what they want.

With affordable tools like Intuit Pay, you can take secure card payments anywhere from your mobile, tablet or laptop/computer. Payments can be taken in-person or over the phone so you need never miss a sale.

4. Smartphone saturation

Nearly 90% of people in the UK will have a mobile phone by 2014 and mobile commerce is becoming increasingly influential, according to a retail trends article on Enterprise Nation. The article highlights research which shows that multichannel customers spend 15-30% more than single channel ones.

The message to retailers is you have to make your offering available online and your online presence has to be mobile-friendly.

5. Social shopping 

People today don’t just go into a shop and buy something – they want to buy it when they want and how they want. They want to be able to talk about products online, read reviews, canvas opinions and share items they love.

In this blog post, Jonathan Chippindale, CEO of retail augmented reality firm Holition, provides examples of how C&A Brazil has clothes hangers with Facebook like buttons on and Uniqlo has ‘magic mirrors’ which enable shoppers to send images of themselves in different outfits to friends via their phones.

6. Going global

Thanks to e-commerce, globalisation is one of the biggest trends continuing to change the UK retail sector and online tools mean small firms can take advantage.

According to research from Barclays, two-thirds of UK retailers expect their overseas revenues to increase over the next five years and 23% of them think that Germany is the number one location for growth in the next five years, followed by China and Australia.

7. Omnichannel retail

According to an article on the British Library’s blog, ‘omnichannel’ is one of the cutting-edge trends beginning to impact UK retailers. It means “connecting each experience, (whether that be purchase, reviewing or browsing) in every channel, be that online, in store or on smartphones etc.”

Examples have included billboard ads which become interactive when a smartphone is pointed at them, iPad magazines with built-in online shopping and items which can be paid for via social media. Big retailers like Tesco and Domino’s are leading the way so small retailers should watch closely.

What retail trends are you seeing popping up?

Are you a small retailer? Are you doing something innovative? We’d love to feature you so get in touch!

Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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