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Six Small Business Retail Trends You Need To Know About

Posted by Sureswipe on 3 September 2018


A significant part of being competitive in retail is staying on top of the latest trends. While rumours of retail’s demise are much exaggerated, there are a number of changes afoot that you as a retailer need to adapt to.


Research conducted by GfK South Africa shows that about 70% of local consumers say they are less loyal to any one retailer, because they have to shop around more to find the best value. Meanwhile, 69% of these shoppers believe that good value for money is the most important thing about a brand.



  • As a result of the difficult economic situation in South Africa, consumers are responding by shopping less frequently.
  • Shoppers spend less per shopping trip and buy in bulk for better value.
  • Loyalty is also declining, as price becomes customers’ determining factor for where they choose to spend their money.


In addition to seeking out lower prices at a higher value, the study shows that consumers are bargain hunting online, with 88% of connected consumers using the Internet to find products they want. According to GfK South Africa:


  •       45% of shoppers use the Internet to purchase a product
  •       40% check prices online, then buy in a traditional store
  •       65% have used a mobile phone to help them shop in the past six months


In addition, due to rising costs and inflation, consumers have less to spend on discretionary retail expenses, such as apparel and accessories, than they did pre-recession.




What are the latest trends shaping brick and mortar retail? Experts suggest you focus on these six developments as the owner of a small business in retail:

  1. A rise in the popularity of mobile payment
    Customers demand ease of payment during every shopping experience, hence the increase in the mobile payment options available to the market. There’s never been a better time to get on board with mobile payment, if you haven’t already.

    Not only is offering this mode of payment convenient for your customers, but the data gleaned from mobile transactions gives you a comprehensive picture of your shoppers’ purchasing habits. “More and more of them will expect mobile payment options in the future, especially if you target Generation Z or Millennials,” says IntelliTrack’s Donnie Kuba, who also suggests linking your payment system to a customer loyalty programme, for improved data access and a bigger incentive for consumers to shop with you. 

  2.  A higher demand for personalised customer service

    The advent of digitisation means less human interaction – something a lot of consumers still value. As a small business owner, your opportunities to interact with your customers and give them a personalised experience are higher than those of your bigger competitors.

    Go beyond a friendly greeting and a smile – befriend your customers and get to know them. This kind of relationship can’t be formed online, and allows you to upsell based on the individual needs of your respective shoppers.

    “To continue attracting customers in 2018 and beyond, physical stores will need to offer standout shopping experiences,” says Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. “In addition to a smooth shopping and check out process, extras such as in-store events, classes, product demonstrations and community involvement can help your store rise above the rest.”

  3. An increase in the importance of product transparency 

    Consumers are spending less on items and more on experiences, especially the Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. So when they purchase products, they ensure their standards for social responsibility and ethical business are met.


    If you’d like to build trust and loyalty with customers, share the story of your products, the people behind them and your business operations. Not only does this transparency foster a positive relationship with your customers, but it can also be a great marketing tool.

  4. Customers respond to curated collections

    Bigger retailers are heeding the demand for more intimate store settings to cater to customers who don’t want to be overwhelmed by product selection. These concept stores don’t stock a full inventory of products, but show customers potential purchases and place orders on their behalf.

    “For a small, independent retailer, it will be more important than ever to showcase high-quality, unique products specially selected for your store,” says Lesonsky.

  5. The advent of digital strategy

    Brick-and-mortar stores may still get the majority of sales in retail, but experts say it doesn’t mean you should put opening an online store on the backburner. Due to the current economic climate, the number of low-income shoppers surpasses their high-income counterparts. However, Lesonsky adds, while low-income consumers would rather shop in store, high-income consumers prefer shopping online.

    “Simply adapting to keep pace is no longer sufficient; to create maximum ROI in an omni-channel environment, winning brands and retailers must know their shoppers – their demands and how and what they’re buying online and in-store -- and then leverage the specific touchpoints that will maximise their shopping experience.” – Nielsen South Africa Head of Retailer Services Gareth Paterson.

    Appeal to various income groups by building an e-commerce presence, or if funds are limited, refining your online marketing and advertising strategy. A digital strategy will help you attract online shoppers and hopefully get them into your store.

  6. Awareness of emotional loyalty
    Forrester and Gallup both conducted research concluding that emotion plays a  vital role in how loyal customers are to businesses. As a retailer, you can use this information to better understand and convey the actions and emotions necessary to foster genuine loyalty across all points of interaction:

    • Your most frequent shoppers build an emotional connection with your store when you establish and solidify relationships with consumers
    • Emotionally loyal customers are most likely to spend money at your shop, despite the availability of meaningful alternatives
    • Consumers with strong emotional connections to your business will visit more often and spend more money than those without emotional bonds.



Talk to Sureswipe about a cost-effective loyalty programme. We can help you retain customers and provide the platform to communicate directly with them through email and SMS. Call 0860 200 111 or fill in your details here and we’ll call you back.


Topics: retail, strategy, tips, Growing Your Retail Business