Consumer Shopping Trends 2018

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For today’s shopper, it’s not just the product on offer that counts, it’s the entire shopping experience. In 2018, consumers want brands to offer them meaningful interactions that take place on physical and emotional levels and which utilise technology to make the boundaries between online and bricks and mortar shopping disappear. In this article, we’ll look at how these trends will affect our shopping experience during the coming year.

The omnichannel experience

One thing we’re certain to see over the coming year is a rise in the number of retailers offering an omnichannel shopping experience. If you’ve not come across this term before, it refers to a multichannel approach in which retailers provide a seamless shopping experience regardless of whether the customer is buying online, from a physical store or calling on the phone.

Examples of the omnichannel experience include buying items online and collecting or returning them to physical stores. Companies such as Argos and Tesco’s, for example, now enable you to click and collect: you shop online, hop in the car and the products are waiting for you when you arrive. Alternatively, if you buy a product online and don’t want it, rather than having to go through the hassle of posting back, you just take it back to the physical store. Companies that have kept their online and physical operations separate until now are going to have make changes in order to keep pace.

Mobile Millennials

A growing number of shoppers, especially the millennial generation, now rely heavily on the convenience of mobile devices for product research, communication, social media and, of course, purchasing goods and services.  This is having a profound effecting on their consumer behaviour. For example, they are more likely to visit a physical store, check out a product whilst there and then order it from another company on their phone whilst still in the building.

This behaviour has become very challenging for physical stores who can end up becoming little more than a showroom for their online competitors. In order to combat this, they have turned to a range of technologies to provide in-store shoppers with a highly personalised shopping experience.

Using NFC (Near Field Communication) chips and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) beacons, both of which can interact with smartphones, retailers are now developing creative ways to communicate with visitors whilst they are in the building. For example, stores can display discount posters with embedded NFC chips next to products. If a customer is interested in purchasing, all they have to do is touch the poster with their phone and they’ll receive a discount voucher instantaneously. This can prompt the shopper to purchase in-store rather than online.

NFC and BLE tags, such as those available from Universal Smart Cards, can be used for a wide range of things, including giving detailed product information, selling tickets, booking services and offering loyalty benefits. They don’t even have to be used inside the store – you can attach them to advertising posters outside in order to entice customers to come in. “Tap your phone here to get a free drink in our café.”

Throughout 2018 we expect to see the use of these technologies increase dramatically in stores, helping to give customers a highly interactive and personalised shopping experience whilst helping the store increase its sales.

The use of Big Data

The amount of data that consumers produce has grown exponentially and much of what they do online can be logged and analysed. Companies can see their shopping habits, demographics, locations and social media activity and, thanks to the rise of cloud computing, all this information can now be collected, stored and processed.

Because of this, Big Data analytics has become an essential element of today’s retail environment. Companies are able to find patterns in consumer behaviour and make predictions about what products to sell and how best to sell them to different groups of people. As a result, these shopper analytics are critical to the ongoing success of many brands and retailers. Those that take advantage of Big Data are finding it much easier to engage with and develop relationships with new and existing customers.

In particular, Big Data enables companies to offer truly personalised shopping experiences. For example, when you visit a store like Amazon, you’ll be shown products that they know you have an interest in – they’ll be related to products you’ve just bought or looked at, from your wish list or similar to products searched by those with similar profiles to your own.

This experience is now being moved into physical stores, too. Retail outlets are now equipping their sales teams with in-store technology that enables them to provide real-time stock details and deliver products directly to the customer’s door if out of stock. In doing this, they are creating an even more personalised experience for the bricks and mortar consumer.

Augmented Reality

Another trend we’ll definitely see more of in 2018 is augmented reality shopping. Stores such as Ikea already provide apps which enable you to see how your room will look with their furniture inside. You can even take a 360° view by walking around your room.

This form of technology is being used as a way to tackle one of the big issues with online shopping: that you normally only get to see a picture of a product before purchasing. Although it’s no substitute for seeing something in-store, being able to use augmented reality does give a consumer a much better impression of how something will look. Such technology can also be used for a wide range of other purposes, even for trying on virtual clothes.

However, augmented reality technology is not confined to online retailing and is already being trialled in clothing stores. In future, the humble changing room mirror is set to be replaced by a full-length computer screen that lets consumers try on any virtual item the store has in stock. Products they like can be then tried on for real, payment can take place in the changing room itself and the goods can either be collected in store or delivered.

Summing up

2018 will see the coming together of a range of technologies that will reshape the shopping experience for today’s consumers. NFC and BLE tags, big data analytics and augmented reality will change the way consumers and retailers interact and make shopping much more personalised and experiential, whether online or in-store.

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Hilltop Honey Brings Three More Products in Sainsbury’s

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The award-winning Mid Wales honey producer, Hilltop Honey, has secured three new product listing with the retail giant, Sainsbury’s. Starting with the 14th of January, customers will see across 343 stores nationwide a new range of honey products: Lavender Honey, Orange Blossom Honey, and Thyme Honey. They will be sold in jars of 227g and will raise the product list to six, after already having a contract for two years to supply its Organic Acacia Honey, Organic Multiflower Honey, and Cut-comb in Acacia Honey.

“It is with great pride that we are launching three additional lines into Sainsbury’s including our Lavender, Orange Blossom and Thyme – all of which form part of our honeys of the world collection. We already have a proven record with Sainsbury’s shoppers, with repeat purchasing remaining high, so we’re confident these new additions will offer consumers a premium, quality product with exceptional taste,” said Scott Davies, founder of Hilltop Honey.

These three new monofloral honeys will add premium value to Sainsbury’s honey offering due to their floral aroma and distinctive taste. UK customers are starting to show more awareness towards natural, unrefined foods, paying special attention to sugar free alternatives. Honey is a natural substitute to sugar and therefore it presents a better and healthier choice.
Scott argues that honey is great for breakfast: “Using a quality honey on toast can add distinctive flavor. Likewise, a drizzle of our Hilltop Honey Orange Blossom honey over porridge can infuse citrus aromas since the honey is gathered from the blossoms of orange groves. Such an intensely flavoured honey brings a new dimension to taste as well as being extremely versatile.”

Since its inception in 2011, the business has grown stronger and stronger. Last year it journey to become one of the UK’s leading premium honey brands by increasing production, moving into expanded premises, and investing in automated technology and staff. The new deal with Sainsbury’s could possibly amount to 78,000 jars per year, which means further growth and sustainability for Hilltop Honey.

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Doughnut Time Will Offer Free Donuts in Notting Hill

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Doughnut Time will be opening its third store on Saturday, the 27th of January in Notting Hill. The customers will have two hours of free donuts, including an exclusive Notting Hill donut, from 12pm-2pm on the day of the launching.

“Following our successful openings in Central and East London, we can’t believe it’s already time to hit West London! So far our doughnuts have conquered Londoners’ hearts, and we’re looking forward to sprinkling a bit of fun on this iconic area of Notting Hill,” said Damian Griffiths, the founder of Doughnut Time.

The shop is right next door to the famous Notting Hill Bookshop, where the characters of Julia Robert and Hugh Grant first met in the British romantic comedy, Notting Hill. To celebrate their location, the bakers from Doughnut Time have partnered up with the Great British Bake Off 2017 Finalist, Steven Carter-Bailey, and created a limited-edition brownie-packet donut named after Julia Robert’s character, ‘Anna Scott’.

The creation is made up of dark chocolate glaze with milk chocolate drizzle and curls, and topped with a daisy flower. Inspired by one of the film’s most popular scenes, the last brownie contest, Londoners have the chance to taste this chocolate delight for free during 12pm-2pm on the 27th of January.

For the future, the Doughnut Time has planned to open a Doughnut Academy above its Shaftesbury Avenue store, offering customers the opportunity to showcase their artistic and culinary skills as they decorate and customise their own donut creations. Additionally, the expansion will continue to grow, as the business is set to open new kiosks in London City Airport and other London locations.

Doughnut Time is a specialist in creating hand-dipped donuts in small batches. They are carefully designed to make customers fall in love, with flavours ranging from conventional (original glazed, salted caramel, jam and cream) right through to the unique (maple bacon, hibiscus and Nerds).

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Asda and Aldi to Ban Energy Drinks to Under-16s

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Asda is the first of the ‘big four’ supermarkets to ban the sale of high caffeine energy drinks to people younger than 16 in all of its stores. This would apply to 84 products starting from Monday, the 5th of March and customers wishing to purchase one of these products will have to show an ID in-store and online. This decision followed a similar ban imposed by Waitrose.
“We have listened to our customers and want to take a leading position in this area to support parents and teachers in limiting young people’s’ access to high caffeine drinks,” said Andrew Murray, Chief Customer Officer at Asda.

Aldi also announced that anyone that will buy soft drinks containing more than 150mg of caffeine per litre will have to prove their age across all of its stores in the UK and Ireland, starting with 1st of March.

“We are introducing this age restriction in response to growing concern about the consumption of energy drinks among young people,” commented on this decision Oliver King, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi.

In 2010, The British Soft Drinks Association introduced a voluntary code of practice that suggested that high-caffeine soft drinks should not be promoted or marketed to those under 16. Following that, in 2013 Morrisons announced a similar ban on energy drinks in some of its stores.

The campaign group Action on Sugar (AoS) found out last month that the typical serving sizes for energy drinks were larger than other sugar-sweetened drinks, at an excessive 500 ml. Graham MacGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine and AoS chairman described these drinks as ‘completely inappropriate’ to be consumed by children and that they should be banned for those under-16.

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Union Street Café Will Serve a New Pizza Trend

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An Italian pizza trend will be brought to London by Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Café on the 6th of February. Pizzas will be turned into a fine dining experience, with the use of best dough recipes and the finest ingredients.

Taking place during one night only, the six course pizza tasting menu will see the Italian dough expert Matteo Attianese and Davide Degiovanni reuniting for an unforgettable evening, working side by side to create the menu and showcase this popular trend from Italy. La Cascina dei Sapori is one of the top ten best pizza restaurants in Italy for which Matteo Attianese masters the finest dough-making.

Some of the dishes included in the menu are ‘Fritta’, which is a fried pizza dough topped with crudo of tuna, turnip tops, chili, and bergamot, ‘Dal Mare’ with Mediterranean octopus, stracciatella, and ‘Nduja, and ‘Dolce’ with a sweet dough topped with sheep’s ricotta, pistachio, lemon, and chocolate. Each one of them will be served as a small portion, closer to the idea of fine dining than the pizza experience everyone is used to.

Union Street Café is known for its openness to bring the Italian spirit to London and Davide together with his team bring all sides of Italy with them in style and personality, as well as in the way they treat the guests as if they are welcoming a friend into their home and sharing their memories of Italy with them. It is a ‘must go’ for the lovers of food, wine, and conversation; a place to spend quality time in the company of friends and loved ones.

This event is the first of its kind organised at Union Street Café and guests will start their pizza journey in the subterranean Olive Grove bar, before heading to an evening hosted by the chefs. It will take place on Tuesday, the 6th of February, and the six course menu, including the aperitif, costs £35 with an optional £15 for beer pairings.

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Arundel Castle’s Tournament Will Celebrate Ten Years

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The annual Jousting and Medieval Tournament organised at the Arundel Castle in West Sussex, England will mark its tenth event this year and it will introduce a ‘Champion of Champions’ edition. The six day event will take place from the 25th until the 30th of July.

Those wishing to attend will see knights on horses jousting in competition for the ‘Order of Arundel’. In the past years, teams of knights used to compete against each other, but this year the highest scoring individual jousters from previous years will join the field. Specially trained horses and knights will then fight to become the finest jouster to contend at Arundel Castle.

“I have no doubt in my mind that this year’s event will be the biggest and best to date! The tournament is unique, testing the physical and mental prowess of each competing knight, as well as their chivalry, horsemanship and stamina,” said Stephen Manion, the Castle’s Manager.

“We are delighted to be hosting a ‘Champion of Champions’ edition in celebration of its tenth outing at the Castle – our visitors are in for a real treat. I look forward to seeing the excitement on the faces of our visitors this July, as they cheer their chosen knight to victory,” added him in regards to this year’s edition.

Arundel Castle will also be the host of a medieval foot tournament, in which competitors will be pitted against each other in a show of combat strength. Alongside these competitions, visitors can expect combat displays, craft showcases and a host of cookery, costume, and weaponry demonstrations.

Discounted entry is applicable for group travel organisers, as well as special admission rates to the jousting tournament. More information about the event and the costs are available on arundelcastle.org

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