2014 predictions: Retail, streaming media and sales reps

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

2 January 2014

Changes are afoot with interaction, advertising and direct sales

Tom Cruise walks through a shopping mall in 2002’s Minority Report where his identity is at risk by personal, interactive advertising as he walks through each store.

The movie is takes place in 2054, but it might as well be 40 years earlier here in 2014.

“Retailers are clamoring for ways to keep customers from just browsing, then ordering products online from somewhere else.”

As we embark on a new year, in which the personal and the technological have taken over, I’ve got a few 2014 predictions of what we’ll see in the coming 12 months:

2014 predictionsRetail stores will become more interactive: Not quite like the high-tech version in Minority Report that says your name when you walk in, personal interaction tactics will become the nadir for retail stores. Retailers are clamoring for ways to keep customers from just browsing, then ordering products online from somewhere else. Recent holiday shopping numbers showed that in-store purchasing was down this year while online sales were up. That’s cause for panic.

You already see in-store, video demonstrations of products in stores, but I predict retailers are going to go one better. It’ll be a sort of customization of the product that you build – much like what car manufacturers do on their websites – and/or interaction that tells you where to find those products, lists costs and enables you to either buy there or order for later pickup/delivery.

The online streaming services will begin showing ads. Hulu already does this, mainly to keep its subscription prices low and even offer a free version. But don’t be surprised if Amazon Instant Video and even Netflix flirt with the idea. It’s not so much that the services themselves are hurting for income. It’s that there’s an opportunity for advertisers in a world in which advertisers are looking for new avenues to promote their products.

With TV advertising less relevant, advertisers will do just about anything to reach audiences. If there’s an opportunity, they’ll take it. Jackals.

For B2B companies, sales reps will become less important. Many B2B companies will tell you they live on the relationships that sales reps build. In fact, B2B customers are becoming less interested in that kind of contact and more interested in things being made simple.

In the rush to increase sales, many B2B companies have large sales staffs to fill in any gap or expertise they think the customer needs. Instead, B2B customers are looking for fewer sales reps, concise messages and the ability to order online.

Those are just a few things I expect to happen this year. There are other subjects I’m sure I’ll cover in that time frame, from the use of mobile video to the return of the jingle to the importance of music in attracting younger generations.

Technology has forced the world to change at a faster rate than since the Industrial Revolution. Attempting to adapt to those changes, companies will falter, while others will rise. Looking ahead and changing are the keys to remaining relevant in 2014.


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