Regardless of predictions people make about e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores still remain the core of the retail industry.

The retail industry is in a pretty comfortable position at the moment, with July 2018 sales up 4.9 percent over the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation.

However, there’s always room for improvement, which is why savvy brands keep an eye on retail merchandising trends of their competitors. With back-to-school, Labor Day, Columbus Day and Halloween all landing in quick succession, brands have plenty of chances to try out new strategies before the holiday shopping season arrives. These top three retail merchandising trends may just be hot enough to incorporate into your own field strategy.

1. Bridging the divide between brick-and-mortar and digital platforms

Retail merchandising doesn’t need to happen in a vacuum. Creating connections between your brick-and-mortar displays and online touchpoints is a sure-fire way to strengthen engagement across different channels. Updating in-store displays to be more pleasing to customer demographics who are active on social media is one way in which companies are innovating in brick-and-mortar. Unique, playful displays are more likely to be shared on social networks, building brand awareness and merging disparate touchpoints.

2. Leveraging marketing data

Merchandising and marketing should be symbiotic in nature, especially when it comes to capturing and leveraging data-driven insights. Information about product movement and customer behavior should always feed into marketing campaigns, but it’s a two-way street: marketing data should inform merchandising practices as well.

According to eMarketer, a select group of brands currently leverage data to drive their merchandising decisions. Companies that are able to achieve this marriage of marketing and merchandising practices are pave the way for data and insights to be freely shared among business units, establishing a culture of cooperation.

3. Achieving real-time display oversight

One of the biggest challenges that brands struggle with is keeping tabs on their in-store displays at all times. Traditionally, field teams have a tough time submitting reports in a timely fashion, mostly due to slow, manual reporting processes.

Many brands are attempting to change by incorporating a mix of technologies including RFID tags, in-store cameras and mobile applications. Monitoring store shelves in real time is not only good for inventory tracking, but it also verifies that merchandising practices are carried out at each store.

Mobile apps empower frontline employees to document retail shelves and share that information to relevant stakeholders. No more eleventh-hour trips to the office to compile field reports and submit them to brand administrators—employees can quickly gather merchandising data and report on it directly from the field.

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