Here are four key charts highlighting what’s high on the priority list for retailers in 2017.

Striving to become digital-first

While bricks-and-mortar operations drive traditional marketing activities for a lot of retailers, the quest to reach digital maturity is also growing in importance.

The below chart shows that 48% of retailers say that digital ‘permeates most of their marketing activities’ – which is compared to 46% for non-retail respondents. 

Meanwhile, 16% of retailers say that digital permeates all their marketing activities. Despite this figure still being fairly low – especially in comparison to other sectors such as media or gambling – it reflects a growing recognition that a strong digital element is needed to complement offline campaigns like TV ads and direct mail.

Targeting and personalisation remain top priorities

While other sectors are prioritising factors like social media engagement and content marketing, targeting and personalisation is now the top priority for retailers – with 33% citing it as one of their current three key areas of focus.

Through personalisation, retailers are able to provide more of an authentic, relevant and memorable experience for consumers, in turn increasing the likelihood of repeat purchases and brand loyalty. 

As a result, we can see that budgets are expanding, with 57% of retailers now planning to further invest in personalisation during 2017.

Understanding mobile users

With retail sales in the UK alone reaching £133bn in 2016, the impact of mobile is clear. 

For retailers, however, it’s becoming more about how mobile can be harnessed as part of an over-arching customer experience strategy – rather than a standalone area that competes for both attention and budget.

The below chart demonstrates the importance of understanding the customer journey, more specifically in terms of how mobile users research and buy products on their smartphone. 

75% of retailers now agree on the importance of taking all touchpoints into consideration when mapping the consumer journey, meaning both online and offline behaviour.

AR and VR breaking through

When it comes to how retailers plan to differentiate themselves in the face of competition, 34% cite making the experience as fun and valuable as possible – above and beyond other factors like customer service and the quality of products. 

With 28% of retailers also citing VR and AR as the most exciting prospect ahead of 2020, many are embracing technology as a way of achieving a fun and unique customer experience. Whether it’s a virtual dressing room or an online chatbot, technology is now being utilised to strengthen bonds with consumers. 

Finally, as technology trends are predicted to dominate the evolution of retail in the next five years, it remains to be seen how retailers will successfully integrate this alongside human-centred design.

For further insight, Econsultancy subscribers can download the latest Digital Trends in Retail Report.