Retailers have experienced an eventful 2020. Unprecedented eCommerce growth and the acceleration of digital transformation to meet consumers' changing needs has been the story of 2020. While the pandemic isn’t over, the COVID-19 vaccine is now available. Regardless of what happens in the world’s health crisis, the consequences of 2020 will significantly impact 2021. Here are five retail trends and predictions you should know about for next year.
Everything you could ever need is now deliverable. With industry-breaking eCommerce, there have been strains on this ecosystem. FedEx, UPS, and the USPS cannot keep pace, so retailers are developing alternatives with last-mile delivery partnerships. These arrangements make sense for the short- and long-term as they are highly scalable with gig workers. One big winner is Shipt, which has relationships with many big retailers such as Costco, CVS, Target, Petco, and Office Depot.
Alternatively, for the smaller eCommerce retailers, there are shipping companies that cater just to them, such as Sendle.
In-store shopping is still slow, even in the holiday season. Malls, which were fixtures of shopping in the '80s and '90s, are growing extinct. Retailers still have the spaces and workers, so they are reallocating the space to work as fulfillment centers. This eases the pressure on their warehouses and keeps this real estate from being nothing but a drain on expenses.
With in-store shopping plummeting and eCommerce booming, retailers will need to get creative to deliver exceptional, personalized experiences. Many are using video calls to offer personal consultations. Some shoppers still want advice and recommendations from sales staff. It’s a new sales model that is customer-centric and leverages technology for what would have once been an in-person conversation.
Kay Jewelers announced virtual consultations for the holiday season to help those looking for a perfect gift for someone special.
Livestreaming is another tactic retailers are employing. This tactic helps create connections and can boost sales. The Interactive Advertising Bureau predicts livestream-generated sales will double to $120 billion in 2021. Renowned brand Estee Lauder hosted over 1 million attendees at virtual try-on sessions. If you’re a retailer with a product that you can demonstrate or try, livestreaming could be a great channel to pursue.
In-store shopping isn’t over. It’s changing and evolving, as it has been for years. New store designs will become prominent in 2021, as retailers seek to offer convenience and contactless interactions. Walmart is one of the major brands to announce transformations to address the new consumer.
Technology will play a huge role in the store of the future. Expect greater use of digital signage and IoT devices to “speak” to customers. Try before you buy will also undergo dramatic change as retailers adopt virtual and augmented reality. VR and AR could be very useful for virtual fitting rooms. Doing so mitigates safety concerns and could also reduce return rates.
Smaller environments that are more intimate could soon take over the standard “boxes” of malls. Shopping centers need to reinvent themselves beyond just acting as fulfillment hubs. A tremendous amount of vacant commercial space is sitting out there, waiting for new ideas and innovation.
One of the biggest trends of 2020 is social commerce, wherein retailers create shopping experiences via social media. It attracts shoppers because of the exclusivity factor and seamlessness. The expected growth of the segment is $2,051 billion through 2024. Retailers certainly need to be in the know on this trend and execute on it, depending on where their consumers are — Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or Pinterest.
Retailers have every right to feel an unease about 2021. However, there are lots of opportunities to innovate, improve, and grow. Consider these 2021 retail trends and predictions and how you can use them in your business.
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