Last updated: 05.04.18

Key insights for the retail sector in 2018

The retail sector will undergo numerous changes in 2018, making additional training, knowledge and skills vital for all workers within the industry.

With competition from online sales and shoppers demanding an experience, the retail industry must adapt and continue to evolve throughout 2018. Staff are at the heart of this change and must be up to speed with the latest developments.

From protecting a brand’s reputation to retaining the best staff and understanding an important piece of new legislation, you need to know what 2018 has in store if you work in the retail sector.

Shopping must be an experience if it is to bear online sales

Despite the rise in online sales in recent years, people still like to make many of their purchases in-store. This means that brands that provide an experience, not just a shopping trip, will find that they get better results. As a retail employee, you will be part of that experience and it’s vital that you help potential customers engage with a concept.

Among the innovative approaches to providing in-shop experiences are accessory corners, coffee shops and cocktail bars. This puts purchasing items in a wider context and staff should be aware of the type of lifestyle they are encouraging their audience to buy into, so they can help to achieve this aim.

Savvy online customers

If your retail role is in an online capacity, there are a number of trends you’re likely to spot in 2018. Internet shoppers are becoming more discount-savvy, spending time tracking sales periods and using voucher codes to get the best deals on their purchases. This can make it hard to meet targets when merchandise is at full price and will require sales strategies to be more sophisticated.

Once your customers have made their choice, the ease with which they can pay is vital. The majority of people are becoming accustomed to using streamlined services for payment and do not want to be putting all of their billing information into individual websites every time they make a purchase. You could even find some customers abandoning their basket and your company losing revenue as a result of elongated payment processes.

The reputation of a brand is paramount

Functioning within a social media world puts every aspect of a company’s operations under close scrutiny. Anything from a gender pay gap to a promotion that has gone wrong, complaints that have not been dealt with efficiently or employees feeling like they have not been treated fairly are all potential PR disasters.

Customers want to believe that they are spending their well-earned cash in businesses that are reasonable and fair. With most retail companies operating in a competitive market, it’s not difficult for purchases to be made with a rival outlet.

Retaining skilled staff is key

As a member of staff within the retail industry, you should think about your career ladder. This means developing more skills and obtaining specialist knowledge that makes you a valuable member of the team. Employers are going to be increasingly keen throughout 2018 to hold onto top talent in the retail world.

You should see more opportunities to get involved with training programmes, while businesses will also be doing what they can to make the work environment as fulfilling and as much of a fun place to be as possible. Meaningful encounters can lead to higher spend and this will not go unnoticed by those at the top.

Retail is among the sectors that faces uncertainty in its workforce due to Brexit, making employers in the industry take a closer look at the staff they have. It is likely to cause greater competition for employees, which could work to the advantage of staff.

GDPR is everyone's responsibility

One of the most important things for retail workers to note in 2018 is the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A Europe-wide plan to help protect every individual’s personal information. It will affect all sectors, including retail.

GDPR is due to come into force on May 25th and, while changes to how a business operates will be driven from the top, all retail staff should understand its implications. The most notable difference for those in the retail sector will be shrinking mailing lists.

Without the ability to rely on data previously collected from potential customers, retailers will need to undertake a different approach to marketing to customers. This could include better use of social media, more engagement with influencers and creative approaches that help them to stand out from the crowd.

Failure to comply with GDPR will have far-reaching consequences and could come with a hefty fine. Each employee within a company must be aware of the regulation and what they must do to ensure there are no breaches in the workplace.

For more information about bespoke e-learning, please contact Jaison Cresswell from Virtual College at We’d love to hear from you.