As the new year begins, it’s time to revisit my predictions of six trends that will reinvent retail in 2017 to see whether they actually came true. This review shows retailers and suppliers proof of industry trends, so they can feel more certain of market influences, and address them in their 2018 business strategies.

Here are my six predictions, followed by evidence of each trend:

Predicted Trend #1: Artisan and culinary products
Verdict: In 2017, consumers craved artisan and culinary products crafted with care.
Proof: Foodies rejoiced this year and Millennials fueled demand for unique and authentic artisan products. That helps to explain why, ahead of Black Friday, Amazon announced its new Amazon Handmade Gift Shop for handcrafted products, including artisan jewelry and handmade toys, to take on rivals like Etsy.1La Monica, Paul R. Amazon’s next target? Etsy-styled arts and crafts. CNN. October 23, 2017. Amazon is so serious about the artisan market that Amazon Handmade products are now available for Prime Now’s one- and two-hour delivery service in certain cities.2Howland, Daphne. Handmade at Amazon deals a blow to Etsy. Retail Dive. December 6, 2017.

In response to consumer demand for culinary quality, the refined Seattle’s Starbucks Reserve Roastery added popular artisan Italian bakery Princi to its menu.3Levine-Weinberg, Adam. Starbucks Opens Its Second Roastery as It Aims to Move Upmarket. The Motley Fool. December 10, 2017. Kroger purchased New York-based Murray’s Cheese, a chain of popular artisan cheese shops.4Eustachewich, Lia. Grocery giant Kroger buys Murray’s Cheese flagship store. New York Post. February 7, 2017. Meal kits were also popular for their culinary convenience and nod toward the upscale and adventurous, including such sumptuous choices as Blue Apron’s curry with pan-seared catfish and Purple Carrot’s vegan tempeh sweet corn risotto with broccolini.5Ray, Joe. Meal Kits Provide Tasty Dinners, With a Side of Landfill. Wired. July 19, 2017.

Predicted Trend #2: Retailtainment
Verdict: This year, retail definitely got more entertaining.
Proof: To encourage in-store shoppers to linger longer during the strategically critical Black Friday weekend sales, Lululemon Athletica enticed shoppers with live hip-hop music, Nike welcomed kids who wanted to play basketball inside its flagship store, and Target nourished hungry shoppers with snacks at the door.6Howland, Daphne. Lululemon, Nike score on Black Friday as ‘retail-tainment’ drives traffic. Retail Dive. November 28, 2017.

In time for the holiday season, Walmart launched a campaign of in-store parties called “Toys That Rock,” “Parties That Rock,” and “Gifts That Rock.” Additional events included in-store toy demonstrations and visits from Santa Claus.7Thomas, Lauren. Wal-Mart will hold parties — yes, parties — in its stores this holiday season. CNBC. November 1, 2017. To stand out and sell, the new Nordstrom Local store delights and pampers in-store shoppers with personalized stylists, a glass of wine, and manicures.8Garcia, Tonya. How Nordstrom is changing the department store game. MarketWatch. September 16, 2017.

Predicted Trend #3: ‘Phygital’ expansion
Verdict: In 2017, companies invested in both physical stores and digital commerce.
Proof: Amazon and Walmart dominated global headlines with their phygital expansions, which they approached from opposite ends of the omnichannel spectrum.

Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market gave the e-commerce giant 460 physical stores to complement its digital dominance.9Stevens, Laura and Annie Gasparo. Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion. The Wall Street Journal. June 16, 2017. Amazon also partnered with discount department store chain Kohl’s to support easier returns in 82 of Kohl’s physical stores.10Derousseau, Ryan. You Can Now Return Amazon Purchases at a Real Store. Time. October 23, 2017. Amazon even took its phygital strategy global, buying a 5% stake in Indian brick-and-mortar retailer Shoppers Stop Ltd. to allow customers to try out items sold online.11Howland, Daphne. Report: Amazon invests in Indian brick-and-mortar retailer. Retail Dive. September 26, 2017.

Meanwhile, Walmart went on a serious e-commerce shopping spree. One year after buying online CPG retailer, Walmart fortified its phygital strategy by adding online apparel retailers Bonobos, Modcloth, Moosejaw, and ShoeBuy, and same-day delivery service Parcel.12Howland, Daphne. Walmart to sell Modcloth, Bonobos only on Jet. Retail Dive. August 18, 2017.

Predicted Trend #4: Predictive analytics
Verdict: This big data trend strengthened retailers’ strategies this year.
Proof: Predictive analytics help retail companies make data-driven decisions to accurately guess what a consumer wants and provide customized product recommendations. Since it also helps retailers like Amazon optimize their pricing strategies in real-time with dynamic pricing, Amazon has been winning the price war in 12 of 13 categories.13Doutriaux, Romain. 4 Big Challenges for Retailers, Solved with Predictive Analytics. Data Iku. March 16, 2017.14Howland, Daphne. Amazon winning the price war in 12 of 13 categories. Retail Dive. October 30, 2017.

Walmart is also using predictive analytics to anticipate store demand and determine whether traditional checkout stations or self-checkouts would optimize the customer experience.15Amato-McCoy. Deena M. Five ways Walmart uses big data. Chain Store Age. August 9, 2017. Kroger and Whole Foods Market also apply predictive analytics insights to their retail strategies to gain a competitive advantage in the fierce grocery sector.16Karolefski, John. Not Quite Ready for Prime Time. Progressive Grocer. April 2016.

Predicted Trend #5: Retail tech innovation
Verdict: 2017 marked more explosive growth in retail technology.
Proof: Among the tech trends connecting retailers directly to shoppers, e-commerce grew 16% year-over-year compared to Q3 2016. Retailers like Asos, John Lewis,, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters use artificial intelligence (AI) to help shoppers find products they desire with AI-driven visual search.17U.S. Census Bureau. Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales, 3rd Quarter 2017. U.S. Department of Commerce. November 17, 2017.18Rathi, Nandini. 3 ways retailers are using AI to reinvent shopping. VentureBeat. May 5, 2017.

Leading CPG suppliers like PepsiCo and Mondelez have empowered shoppers with technology, using crowdsourcing to directly engage consumers for input into product development.19Loria, Keith. PepsiCo, Mondelez turn to crowdsourcing to help find new ingredients. Food Dive. May 9, 2017. Since consumer confidence increases sales, Ikea added an augmented reality (AR) app to allow shoppers to preview their purchases before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on furniture. Lowe’s also embraced AR to make the in-store experience easier to navigate.20Bell, Karissa. Download this: Ikea’s AR app lets you preview future before you buy. Wired. September 24, 2017.

To improve B2B efficiency and agility, and serve shoppers across all channels, companies like Walgreens are adopting digital retail management systems.21Hyken, Shep. Walgreens: At The Corner Of Technology And A Better Customer Experience (CX). Forbes. July 8, 2017. These systems connect their internal stakeholders and supply chain partners with a unified set of retail information, improving communication and consistency to enhance the customer experience.

Predicted Trend #6: Small is big
Verdict: In 2017, retail companies of all sizes embraced the little things.
Proof: This year, Kohl’s invested in small-format (35,000-square-foot) stores to appeal to wealthier, younger urban shoppers by designing a more efficient layout.22Howland, Daphne. Kohl’s expanding small-format stores. Retail Dive. August 22, 2017. Target opened new small-format stores with footprints as low as 12,000 square feet, and Nordstrom Local squeezed into a cozy 3,000-square-foot space for a more convenient, intimate shopping experience.23Keyes, Daniel. Target opens new small-format stores. Business Insider. October 23, 2017.24Garcia, Tonya. How Nordstrom is changing the department store game. MarketWatch. September 16, 2017.

Among suppliers, CPG giants acquired sleek niche brands to add healthier, natural snack foods to their product portfolios. This year, Hershey bought Skinny Pop for $920 million and Kellogg’s bought RXBar for $600 million to appeal to younger, on-the-go shoppers who value health and wellness.25Bomey, Nathan. Hershey to acquire Skinny Pop maker for $920M. USA Today. December 18, 2017.26Wilkins, Peter. What $600M RXBar Acquisition By Kellogg’s Says About Chicago’s Simple Food And Beverage Industry. Forbes. October 13, 2017.

2017: Retail Overview
I could be a fortune teller! As predicted, 2017 retail trends reflect the quality, care, and fun of artisan and culinary products, small is big, and retailtainment. Technology helped retail companies get closer to consumers using phygital strategies, retail tech innovation, and predictive analytics. Overall themes include omnichannel excellence and convenience to impress shoppers.

Other notable 2017 retail trends included hemp-based wellness’ mainstream appeal and the retail supply chain’s reinvention. To prepare for the new year, stay tuned for my 2018 retail trends post, coming later this month.

What 2017 retail trends would you add to this list?

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