In 2014, retail can grow with big data, interactive tech in stores and quicker responses to inclement weather

In 2014, retailers can expect to see more growth in areas such as mobility, personalization, big data and digitalization of media, according to a predictions post on the Microsoft Advertising Blog.

Nigel Ashton, head of Retail and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods for Microsoft Advertising UK, writes on the blog about what’s ahead in 2014 – and how brands can move ahead if they anticipate these trends.

Brand Experience. There’s no substitute for brand equity and establishing a strong relationship with consumers over time, Ashton writes.Digital vouchers, click and collect, same day order-delivery, free returns, loyalty rewards and of course competitive pricing are not just isolated services but an integrated web of push and pull marketing where the consumer is prepared to part with their data and money if the rewards merit it.”

Social Geology. Online social channels, such as Facebook Twitter, Skype and Outlook, are now “a mainstay” of a retailer’s strategy to connect with consumers, Ashton writes. “The game changer will be brands plugging social in retail sales data and in the year ahead there are huge opportunities for this relationship to become more scientific. Not only will this show how people have connected with a brand but also what they decided to go onto do as a result.”

Join the Dots. In 2014, retailers will need to think “not just about just having a multi-channel retail strategy but also how to map the consumer from one channel to another,” Ashton forecasts. He says the real winners will be technology solution providers “that connect the virtual and the physical… to allow retailers who own a stake in different channels to gain a foothold in each stage of the consumer path. This will be a key differentiator between the successful retailers and the less successful ones this year.”

Natural Interfaces. Ashton foresees retailers – such as supermarkets and department stores – using more “technology and natural interfaces that enhance the consumer experience.” He predicts that in-store Wi-Fi and tablets will be seen more often in stores – and that 3D will be more common.

Thermo activation. Weather is “both a friend and foe to retail,” Ashton writes. “In 2014 retailers will employ new techniques and technologies in order to react swiftly to temperature and climate change to create the most appropriate customer experience.”

Brand Handshakes. Ashton sees more brand collaboration in 2014, in terms of brands cross-selling in each other’s stores – online and in-person.

Get more details on all of these predictions on the Microsoft Advertising Blog.

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Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff