Staying ahead of retail trends is an important method to keep an edge over competitor retailers in Australia.

This is why it is important to keep track of the forecasts from local and international retail consultants and experts.

As the new year comes into full swing and many business owners return from well-earned holiday breaks, the retail trends for 2014 have begun to emerge.

Technology

A common theme among the predictions this year include the prominence of technology-based advances and developments within the retail sector.

Additionally, a divergence is expected where physical and online retailing will become more closely connected and less competitive.

This will be seen through delivering digital experiences to consumers online and within brick and mortar stores.

Technology such as Apple’s iBeacon – which sends specific product notifications to customers’ phones depending on the area of the store they are currently in – allow retailers to target a more personalised consumer experience whether they are shopping online or instore.

Customisation

The demand for personalised shopping experiences is also expected to affect the products being marketed to consumers.

Customers are increasingly anti general, run-of-the-mill items. They often prefer to purchase products that are unique and reflects their personality and experience.

On this theme, Business Insider Australia forecasts a huge opportunities for small to medium enterprises to offer a market niche by customising existing products to attract specific target customer bases.

Unification

Consumers often interact with a business on many channels, including researching a company online, following them on social media and shopping in store.

In order to make the most of this trend, retailers are encouraged to adopt unification – connecting these channels in order to track the full customer experience.

Insight gained from analysing each step of a consumer’s interaction with businesses can give companies the ability to market more effectively to these multi-channel shoppers.