The retail industry is undergoing a significant transformation driven by technology and evolving consumer behaviors. This year, at the Retail Council of Canada’s (RCC) STORE Conference, we explored the key trends currently shaping the retail landscape. From leveraging changing consumer behaviors to harnessing data, and embracing new technologies, retailers are adapting to meet the demands of today's consumers.

The 2023 RCC STORE Conference, held in Toronto over two days, provided participants with an opportunity to delve into what’s top of mind for retailers in Canada. With the support of over 55 speakers and 34 vendors, attendees had the chance to discover and explore the cutting-edge developments in the industry.

Kostya in event

Top retail trends shaping the industry:

E-commerce and omnichannel retailing: The rise of online shopping and the integration of multiple sales channels have become essential for retailers. Embracing e-commerce and creating a seamless omnichannel experience allows retailers to reach a wider customer base and provide convenience and flexibility. However, according to Kerri-Ann Santaguida, Vice President and General Manager of Merchant Services at American Express Canada, Gen Z wields unparalleled influence on the future of retail, and while retailers have made progress in areas such as marketing investment and digital payments, there is still room for improvement in providing unique in-store experiences, which is the preferred shopping method for this generation, according to AMEX. Retailers should invest in creating engaging and personalized in-store experiences that align with Gen Z’s motivations and values, which brings us to the next trend.

Personalization and customer experience: Consumers now expect personalized shopping experiences tailored to their preferences. Retailers can leverage data analytics to understand customer behavior and offer personalized product recommendations, customized marketing campaigns, and exceptional customer service to build stronger relationships and enhance loyalty. In fact, leveraging data analytics and consumer insights is crucial for retailers to understand changing market trends, consumer preferences, and purchasing patterns, according to Jan Kestle, President and Founder of Environics Analytics. By harnessing data effectively, retailers can make informed decisions, optimize their strategies, and deliver personalized experiences that resonate with their target audience.

Sustainability and ethical consumerism: Conscious consumerism has become a significant trend, with customers increasingly concerned about environmental and social impacts, or the Planet portion of the three Ps (People, Profit, Planet). Retailers should adopt sustainable practices, offer eco-friendly products, and communicate their commitment to sustainability to attract and retain customers who prioritize ethical values.

Technology Integration: Advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR), are transforming the retail landscape, according to Eric Morris, Managing Director and Head of Retail at Google Canada. Retailers can leverage AI to understand consumer preferences, forecast demand, streamline supply chains, and improve marketing effectiveness. By delivering personalized customer experiences through AI-powered solutions, retailers can gain a competitive edge and meet the evolving expectations of consumers. To stay competitive in an area that’s growing faster than anyone has ever expected, retailers should explore ways to integrate these technologies to enhance the shopping experience, improve operational efficiency, and drive customer engagement.

How to remain competitive in the retail market

  1. Embrace digital transformation: Adopt e-commerce platforms, invest in a robust online presence, and ensure a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. This includes optimizing websites for mobile devices, offering secure and convenient payment options, and providing efficient order fulfillment and delivery services.
  2. Prioritize customer experience: Focus on creating exceptional and personalized experiences across all touchpoints. Invest in customer service training, utilize data analytics to understand customer preferences, and continuously improve the shopping journey to exceed customer expectations.
  3. Adapt to changing consumer values: Stay updated with consumer trends and preferences, particularly in areas such as sustainability and ethical practices. Incorporate eco-friendly initiatives, source sustainable products, and communicate your commitment to responsible business practices.
  4. Leverage technology: Explore and integrate emerging technologies that enhance the retail experience, such as AI, AR, and VR. Utilize data analytics tools to gain actionable insights and make data-driven decisions to optimize operations, inventory management, and marketing strategies.
  5. Embrace innovation: Stay agile and open to new ideas, technologies, and business models. Foster a culture of innovation within the organization, encourage experimentation, and be willing to adapt to changing market dynamics and consumer demands.
  6. Build strong partnerships: Collaborate with technology providers, logistics partners, and industry experts to leverage their expertise and stay ahead of the curve. Seek partnerships with influencers and other complementary brands to expand reach and engage with new customer segments.

The retail industry is at a crucial juncture, adapting to technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, and evolving market dynamics. By staying attuned to these key trends and issues, retailers can position themselves for success and drive bottom-line profitability in an ever-evolving marketplace.

KPMG in Canada takes a multi-disciplinary approach to help your business overcome challenges and respond to opportunities. We leverage the skills, knowledge, experience and passion of our firm to provide deep business insights and innovative solutions to help you and your business succeed. The professionals in our Consumer & Retail practice combine deep industry knowledge with extensive experience working with clients in the retail sector, plus the food, beverage and consumer products and restaurant segments.

At KPMG, we provide support in Audit, Tax, and Advisory in a functional, and collaborative way that today’s Consumer & Retail market requires. We measure our success from the only perspective that matters – yours.

Connect with us

Stay up to date with what matters to you

Gain access to personalized content based on your interests by signing up today

Connect with us