3 Retail Trends That You Could Tap into for Your Small Business

The latest retail trends are not just for larger companies, as some small businesses are capitalizing on these benefits, including incorporating more tech-driven solutions.      

Here are 3 retail trends that are drawing more attention from smaller businesses.

Stand-out Packaging. While packaging will always be more important to some companies than others, its general purpose remains the same - protecting the product from damage.

The direct-to-consumer model's growth has resulted in consumers expecting their purchases to arrive perfectly and on time, writes Constant Contact marketing exec Jerry Jao in an article for Inc. magazine.

More than opening a packaging, the unboxing experience can be an opportunity to display the "brand's visual identity and product quality," he says, which can also build customer loyalty.

In the Inc. post, Jao cites Dot.com for research that says more than two-thirds of consumers share product photos if they find them unique and appealing.

If they're not already, food and CPG brands that sell directly to consumers need to pay more attention to packing - it can lead to more sales and repeat customers, Jao says.

Food Service Automation. As retailers continue to face labor shortages, some smaller businesses, including restaurants, are turning to tech solutions.

Some businesses are using food service automation, such as free-standing kiosks, to help with the void. 

"As contactless ordering and automation become all the rage amidst hiring shortages and Covid-19-related concerns, self-ordering kiosks are appearing more and more," writes food systems researcher Annie Cheng in a blog for Emerging, a consulting company that specializes in restaurants and entertainment.

"Kiosks can accurately process and queue orders for restaurant workers to prepare without the need to man a front-of-house responsibility," says Cheng.

In the post, Cheng cites an Appetize case study indicating customers increased their orders by 21 percent in size, adding 1.4 times more items in their cart, when using self-service kiosks, compared to cashier terminals.

Retailers can find opportunities through an omnichannel technological approach and by atomization, according to a survey by Square and Wakefield Research of 1,000 consumers and 500 retail owners and managers about retail industry trends.

"Streamlining efficiencies for tasks like tracking orders, managing customer loyalty programs, and communicating with customers are the top three areas where retailers say automated technology will help fill staffing gaps," says a blog post on Square.

Data-Driven Strategies. A more data-driven strategy is another trend seen in retail - a move that can help businesses become more agile and responsive to their customers.

"As e-commerce continues to grow, companies need to be able to digest and act on the data their consumers provide them," writes Jao in the article for Inc. magazine.

"Data opens so many doors that can help you serve your customer better -- more effective communication, better relationships, genuine excitement, and also buying offline."

It's become harder for some smaller companies to fight for position in search results, so Jao suggests businesses consider investing in their digital presence. Businesses can optimize their positioning by developing their own direct-to-consumer platform, "which would allow them to leverage first-party data and avoid floundering at the whims of marketplace algorithms."

Similarly, research firm McKinsey & Co. reports the increased trend of data-driven marketing among businesses, including smaller and medium-sized ones.

Some companies have chosen to accept the data "for the bounty it is and, rather than stepping back from precision marketing," says McKinsey & Co. in a post on its website.

Capturing the opportunity, however, requires a business to update their modeling—from pulling in new sorts of data to retraining algorithms—to keep pace with changing needs and expectations and anticipate shifts in customer behavior, says the report.

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