Customer experience is such a key differentiator for marketers today, and the piece that will drive that experience is technology.

According to a new market brief from Synchrony Financial, technology is the main influence for eight of the Top 10 Retail Trends for 2016.

Synchrony Financial’s market brief, 10 Things to Know – the Top 10 Retail Trends for 2016, lists the Top 10 Retail Trends:

1. Wearable Technology: From headsets and smartwatches to fitness and health devices, wearable technology is being embraced by shoppers for ease of accessing product and store information, offers, and speed of payment.

2. New Retail Holidays: Looking beyond the standard calendar, retailers are linking sales to special observances and creating their own shopping holidays to attract new buyers and engage with existing customers to boost loyalty and repeat spending.

3. Voice Technology: Up to four times faster than type-and-click, voice-enabled search signals a shift in how consumers find product and service information. At the same time, innovations in language recognition will give voice a bigger role in online commerce, retail search strategies, and shopper engagement.

4. Virtual Reality (VR) in the Shopping Experience: Virtual reality immerses consumers in sensory and personalized experiences, empowering them to interact with products and services. With mobile devices capable of delivering rich VR experiences, shoppers can tour a store or try on a new fashion anywhere, at any time.

5. Video Streaming: Growing video-on-demand traffic and the higher likelihood of shoppers to purchase a product after watching a video, provides opportunities for retailers to consider online streaming video for product demos, display or customer service.

6. Internet of Things: Point-of-sale information is no longer the main source of data for merchants, as millions of devices are being deployed and connected in the retail environment to collect and send data that provides valuable, real-time insights.

7. Mobile and Alternative Payments: Expected to increase three-fold this year, mobile payments are transforming commerce. As retailers transition terminals and develop ecommerce platforms to engage with shoppers and accept new payment methods, consumers are adopting mobile wallet apps, branded wallets, and smartwatches and devices with payment capabilities.

8. Social Network Buy Buttons: Shopping and social media have been a natural fit, but are quickly becoming more commercial. Largely driven by growing mobile usage, retailers are providing shoppers with easier functionality to purchase within a social app by adding Buy buttons that allow users to shop directly on their sites.

9. Increased Spending on Pets: Pet expenditures continue to rise as consumer demographics and mindsets toward pets change. Recognizing pets are considered a member of the family more than ever, many retailers and veterinarians are focusing on the increasing demand for products and services that meet the needs of pet owners.

10. Personalization: All these trends intersect in the ability to deliver unique, personalized customer experiences. Data, tools and technology are making it possible to understand customer preferences and deliver personalized offerings, in addition to product selection and prices.

“As an innovation and technology-driven company, Synchrony Financial continuously tracks consumer insights and trends as a way to help retailers monitor areas impacting their business this year and in the next three-to-five years,” said John P. Williams, Marketing Innovation leader, Synchrony Financial. “The pace of change is accelerating and we are working with our retail partners to create easier, faster, and more relevant and rewarding experiences for consumers.”

The Top 10 Retail Trends for 2016 brief can be downloaded and viewed, along with other retail and shopper insights at: http://synchronyfinancial.com through the “Insights” link under the “News” tab. 

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