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2017 Retail Predictions

BY HBSDEALER Staff

As the new year gets underway, it’s time to look forward to the changes and trends 2017 will bring. For retailers, that includes some new consumer behaviors in addition to the always-expected technological advances.

While change might seem overwhelming, it can also provide fresh opportunities for sales. And with a little planning, retailers can stay ahead of competition to meet the demands of their customers.

To help guide you into the new year, here are a few of our 2017 retail predictions.

Non-Traditional Revenue Sources
As we enter 2017, many retail organizations are beginning to explore non-traditional revenue sources to keep profits up. One of the easiest turnkey ways to build revenue? Credit protection and warranty solutions. These products not only offer a positive impact on the bottom line, but they’re also a great way to build customer loyalty — the sort of loyalty that keeps customers coming back and turns them into brand advocates.

Automated Online Returns
Throughout 2016, online shopping experienced enormous growth — and there’s no sign of a slowdown. As online shopping continues to become more common, you can anticipate a push for easy, automated return processes from online retailers. Convenience can help breed confidence, allowing customers to make a purchase online knowing they can easily return if they’re not satisfied.

Retailer Transparency
From manufacturing details to corporate values, the average consumer desires greater transparency from retailers recently. This is especially true of Millennial shoppers, many of whom would rather purchase from a socially conscious brand over a luxury retailer. Businesses that embrace the same values as consumers can anticipate a boost to brand loyalty, which is a great reason to let your customers know you’ll always be up front with them.

Renting vs. Buying
The year 2017 may also see a rise in rentals — especially when it comes to larger or generational electronics. Knowing that a product’s lifespan lasts only until the release of next generation model may give consumers pause before taking the full purchase plunge. For example, full two-year phone contracts are becoming more expensive. With consumers aware the next iteration comes out in just in six short months, there’s far less incentive to sign up long term and more mobile customers are leasing devices rather than buying them. Be on the lookout for this trend to hit other industries as well.

Independent Retailers
Over the last several years, there’s been a growing demand for niche, independent retailers. Why? It starts with personalization — having access to a retailer that simultaneously caters to individual needs and likely knows their customer inside and out. For both new and existing brands, this trend leads to improved, more personalized service as well as a smaller store footprint. Going forward, the desire for unique and customized service is only going to go up — so get on board.

Mobile, Mobile and More Mobile
The growth of mobile is no longer a secret, and incorporating a mobile strategy can only benefit your brand — regardless of your company’s size. Simply ensuring a website is mobile friendly, or enabling mobile purchase, creates a sophisticated mobile interaction that improves the customer experience.

Get ready, retailers. The new year is here!

Kevin Cundiff is VP of retail for Fortegra Financial Corporation, a Tiptree Financial Inc. company. Fortegra and its subsidiaries comprise a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options including warranty solutions, credit insurance, and specialty underwriting programs.

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Next Big Thing: Kitchen transparency

BY HBSDealer Staff

What's the next big thing in refrigerator design? We'd tell you, but you'd see right through us.

Two major appliance manufacturers have released innovative new refrigerator designs that bring the inside out — specifically by using glass or transparent features to illuminate the fridge's contents.

LG Electronics has expanded the number of refrigerators in 2017 (13 total) outfitted with its InstaView feature, which allows users to knock twice to illuminate its glass panel and see inside the refrigerator without opening the door.

This year, 13 LG refrigerators – available in various sizes, finishes and configurations and starting at $2,199 – will offer InstaView, the next generation of LG's award-winning Door-in-Door® technology, providing flexibility so consumers can enjoy this new technology in the configuration and style that meets their needs.

LG's Door-in-Door technology also allows users to access often-used items without having to open the entire refrigerator. The refrigerator's ColdSaver Panel, a barrier between the interior compartment and the rest of the refrigerator, reduces cold air loss and helps keep food fresh.

"In the few short months since LG launched InstaView into the U.S. market, this unique feature piqued the interest of many who are interested in 'seeing' their food in a new way," said David VanderWaal, VP marketing for LG Electronics USA. "This year, consumers will have even more choices of refrigerators that feature our most impressive new technology at various price points, proving that with LG there's no need to compromise functionality for style."

Meanwhile, Frigidaire recently unveiled the Frigidaire Professional Glass Door Refrigerator, which can illuminate what's inside – hands-free – with the Proximity Sensor, which automatically turns on interior lights when movement is detected in front of the appliance. The interior lights fade to black when not in use.

"The new Glass Door Refrigerator expands our already successful line of professional appliances," said John Weinstock, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Electrolux North America. "Consumers want powerful performance and state-of-the-art design in their kitchen. Unlike most professional appliances, this refrigerator is compatible with standard-size appliances so it fits into existing kitchens and doesn't require custom work."

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Trex rolls out new Outdoor Kitchens collection

BY HBSDealer Staff

Trex has released a new collection of waterproof outdoor storage in a nod to the rising popularity of outdoor entertaining.

The new Trex Outdoor Kitchens collection builds on its current outdoor storage offerings with a number of lifestyle-friendly features.

Among these: customizable cabinets for televisions and entertainment systems, along with sink and grill bases designed to hide plumbing and propane hook-ups, while also providing storage for utensils and food prep essentials.

"As the popularity of outdoor living continues to surge, there is a corresponding rise in intentionally designed outdoor living spaces that feature fully-appointed kitchens and entertainment areas," said Jim Cline, president and CEO of Trex. "The Trex Outdoor Kitchens collection allows homeowners to integrate the same comfort and convenience features they enjoy indoors into their outdoor spaces while also adding undeniable style."

All items in the collection are manufactured with a dense, low-maintenance resin that won't warp, fade or crack, with an adhesive-welded interior of ¾" white PVC.

The collection includes grill base cabinets, sink bases, wall-mounted television/entertainment cabinets, pull-out ice coolers, base cabinets and bench drawers, skirting insert cabinets, trash storage cabinets, and options for roll-out drawers and shelving.

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