As we enter a new year, as ever Pursuit Software has made it a top priority to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in retail. Only by being abreast of new developments in the world of retail can we be the perfect partner for our clients when it comes to helping them to build their own businesses. Here are some of the trends that we feel will be pre-eminent over the coming 12 months. Become cultural icons One thing that has become increasingly apparent is that emotion is playing an increasingly large role in the way that customers shop. The importance, particularly to millennial, of a company’s adherence to social consciousness, ethical values and corporate responsibility. The result has led to companies equating their internal culture with their exterior identities. Leading business publication Forbes, says: “Companies will have to consider the image their brand conveys to the world and work to create cultures that match consumers’ values and world views. This doesn't always equate to a companies attitude toward sustainability or green issues, it is far more wide-ranging than that. Brands need to take into account the latest buzz in music, fashion, news, entertainment and, of course, social media. Speed things up Speed is of the essence when it comes to online shopping. Figures from September 2018 suggest that the e-commerce sector shows that it enjoyed another period of expansion, growing by a further 11 percent on the previous year’s figures. The majority of retailers now have an online presence so now the challenge is to make your online offer better than that of your opposition. With Amazon Prime making two-day shipping the standard, customers are now expecting quicker deliveries and the amount of time people are willing to wait has dropped from five days to four. This means cutting down shipping time is vital for any e-commerce business looking to survive in the market. Shopping for an experience The retail sector has long known that it needs an overhaul and the shape of the overhaul is beginning to become clear. What today’s consumers are looking for is an experience and the more innovative traders are answering the call. The move - both in-store and online - is to offer an experience. Samsung, for example, has unveiled a multi-million pound pop-up store that features its products but doesn’t have any products in-store for sale. As Samsung’s Director of Store Development, Michael Koch, said: “$43 million and the only thing you can buy is a coffee.” The 56,000 square-foot store has interactive art, virtual reality lounge areas, a recording studio and a three-story 96-screen display wall. The concept is simple: Samsung has recognised that experience is the core to the future of commerce. Seeing the bigger picture Despite bricks and mortar stores closing at an alarming rate, for many businesses they still have a key role to play. The role however is changing rapidly and physical stores are now often part of a larger strategy. Instead of being the primary – and often only - point of sale, stores are part of a multi-channel net to attract and keep customers. Other selling platforms include facebook, e-marketplaces websites and other social media platforms. For example, Millenials prefer to buy products they discover on Instagram or Snapchat, while nearly 25 per cent of Babyboomers are influenced into what they buy via Facebook. Within all of these channels, the store still has an important role to play.