The retail industry in the UK is facing uncertain times, what with the slowing global economic growth, the mounting competitive intensity, the looming sustainability issues, and of course, Brexit. This dark mood isn’t just affecting the UK though; it seems to be a global phenomenon. Retail companies have to make strategic changes to their core operational strategies to incorporate flexibility and resilience while monitoring risks and driving productivity, if they hope to survive the current retail environment. To do this, companies need to attune themselves to customer sentiments and  stay updated on the happenings within the industry.

Here, we provide a summary of the state of the retail and fashion industries in 2019 versus 2020 and the years to come, to give you an idea about the developments in the industry.

Goals for 2019

The goals (as recommended by PwC) of retailers in the beginning of 2019 to drive profitable share in what was then considered to be a “flat economy” were to

  1. Invest heavily in data analytics and AI to improve customer experience
  2. Transforming the operation model and supply chain to incorporate efficiency
  3. Revamp the corporate structure and improve means of communication with customers.

Goals for 2020

10 crucial themes for fashion industry in 2020 (source)

Research indicates that to win back the newly cautious consumers and stay ahead of the curve during the uncertain times ahead, retailers will have to put new and improved systems with modified goals in place:

  1. Elimination of waste and transparent supply chains: a “circular economy” lays emphasis on recycling, reusing and remanufacturing to promote sustainability. This has the added impact of satisfying the increasingly environment-conscious consumer base. Companies are also trying to develop transparency in their systems and supply chains to lend some level of security to consumers.
  2. Going digital: retailers are going the extra mile to enhance customers’ shopping experiences and establish brand loyalty
  3. Social shopping: another effort to make every customer’s overall shopping experience smoother by using the convenience and immense popularity of social media.
  4. Inclusivity and “wokeness”: sustainability, inclusivity in fashion, and the presence of a social and ethical purpose would greatly appeal to the sizable Gen-Z consumer base.
  5. Usage of payment apps and mobile wallets: A study from Juniper Research confirmed that over 2 billion consumers used mobile wallets in 2019, and that number has only grown since. These apps have been known to shorten wait times and improve checkout experiences, and are hence good investments.

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