The pandemic continues to make immense changes in the entire retail industry. Everything from how businesses market themselves, to how and where consumers primarily get their products.
Online retail, already rising pre-pandemic, emerged as the biggest powerhouse in the industry and dominates as the main channel to promote, view, and purchase. Traditional retail, such as brick-and-mortar stores, continue to remain an essential part of retail (albeit with a smaller footprint than before) especially as we adjust ourselves to living with the pandemic in a more long-term mindset.
As a business, it’s important to get ahead of these trends not only to remain relevant to your target audience, but to breach new markets to aid in business expansion over time.
1- Hybrid Retail Model
The retail industry has seen tremendous shifts throughout the year since the pandemic started. As consumers adjust to a post-pandemic landscape and work from home living and back again, many prefer to return to traditional shopping rather than online in order to get back to more normality.
A major shift that had ignited pre-pandemic was an increase in partnerships between different retailers both in the “offline” and online space to create a more blended retail experience. With the stronger hold online retail now has, consumers are after a more immersive and convenient retail experience than before.
Technology has also stepped in to fill this consumer need, with immersive video experiences, contactless pick-up, and online purchasing available in-store.
2- Virtual Events
Virtual Events emerged as a major game player in 2020 as the world moved to a work-from-home model, and it’s here to stay for 2022. While hybrid events continue to garner popularity due to the need for re-introducing in-person connection, virtual events remain popular due to their low cost and opportunities for more widespread attendance.
Here at Product Guru, we’ve implemented this change by introducing Virtual Pitches. At our Lightning Pitch events, suppliers have the opportunity to connect and garner feedback from buyers at major UK retailers, regional stores, farm shops, pharmacies, as well as cafes, hotels, independent and specialist retailers.
3. Social E-Commerce Integrations
Social e-commerce is a newer trend we’ve begun to see take hold since early 2021, as social media has not only transformed as an avenue to promote products but as an additional platform for consumers to make purchases.
Part of meeting rising demands from consumers involves reaching them in every way possible in order to fit their version of convenience. For example, purchasing an item directly from Instagram and receiving confirmation and updates through their direct messaging. This also includes expanding the reach and availability of stores in order to become more accessible for queries.
Being able to reach stores through Instagram DMs, Facebook Messenger, plus on their own e-commerce website has become less of bonus and more of an expectation as consumers expect as much ease as possible. Businesses can accommodate this by building an omnichannel approach to their UX, building online infrastructure that supports ongoing integration in order to actualise features as they come into the retail landscape.
4. Sustainable Shipping & Packaging
An increase in online shopping purchases over the past few years have made consumers aware of the considerable emissions from shopping online vs traditional retail. From biodegradable packaging to lower shipping emissions, consumers are more conscious than ever about their carbon footprint. Major retailers have begun to tackle this with methods such as utilising software such as Shop Pay at checkout, where users contribute to planting trees by choosing to process their checkout through them.
Additionally, other methods such as package bundling, where certain items may be placed together in the same packaging or delayed in order to ship together, have become a popular option.
5. Customer Retention
With consumers faced with more options than ever before, bringing in and retaining new consumers rises as a major challenge for the retail scape. Part of these efforts will include implementation of previously mentioned retail trends in order to meet rising consumer demand, as well as strengthening internal infrastructures to support a strong customer feedback loop and effective reputation management.
Efforts tackling the retention of consumer relationships could also involve the establishment of more brand loyalty programs in order to incentivise them to continue coming back.
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