In 2020, the unexpected pandemic unsettled the world as we know it. Fortunately, the retail industry’s growth rates in nearly all leading economies remained positive. For instance, in the United States, the retail index grew by 6.9% (YoY), with eCommerce sales contributing 21.3% of the total retail revenue or more than a fifth of the GMV generated for the first time. E-commerce sales spike is not entirely surprising since the lockdowns kept the physical retailers shuttered for weeks in many countries.
Despite the favorable growth rates, 2020 was pretty harsh for most retailers as they continue to struggle to adjust to the new reality. In last year alone, 30 major US retailers filed for bankruptcy, closing more than 9500 stores. In the UK, 54 big retailers followed the same path, closing more than 1,300 locations which affected more than 100,000 employees.
The challenge is far from over in 2021. To become increasingly competitive in eCommerce, retailers need to continuously invest in new ways to gain customer insights, test emerging technologies, transform the organization to be digitally aligned and differentiate on customer experience across channels. This is a tall order for any retailer.
So what are the key trends retailers look to invest in this year?
In an effort to shed light on this direction, the ContactPigeon team asked 61 professionals in the retail industry to share their insights and predictions.
Here is a table of contents to help you quickly navigate through this mini-report.
Key insights: The top retail trends of 2021
The top 5 retail trends of 2021 will be:
- Top Retail Trend #1: AI
- Top Retail Trend #2: Visual Commerce (AR/VR/Visualization technologies)
- Top Retail Trend #3: Personalization
- Top Retail Trend #4: Influencer Marketing
- Top Retail Trend #5: Omnichannel Retail
Other emerging retail trends and key observations:
- Contactless Shopping, Social Commerce, BOPIS, Pop up Kiosks/stores, Amazon Commerce, 360 Customer Analytics, Hyper-Local Marketing, Voice Commerce, In-store Digital Solutions (QR codes, etc).
- 19% of the participants agreed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning Technologies (ML) will have an increasing role throughout every aspect of business operations, from Customer Support, Customer Analytics, In-store Assistance to Inventory Management and Retail Supply Chain.
- 12% of the experts also agreed that the use of technologies like AR, VR and other product visualization solutions will be among the most promising trends in 2021.
Retail Expert #1: Gigi J.K., Founder & CEO, Virtina
Founder & CEO, Virtina
“Alongside BOPIS, MOPIS and COPIS are also expected to rise incrementally in 2021.“
In retail eCommerce for 2021, I expect the BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup in Store) model to grow stronger. More consumers are drifting towards eCommerce, and for urgent and immediate deliveries, they may want to collect their orders from a nearby pickup point.
Alongside this, I expect MOPIS (Manufacture online pick up in-store) and COPIS (Customize online and pick up in-store) also to rise incrementally. It allows consumers to order from their comfort zones and receive the package without breaking any COVID protocols and getting anywhere near other civilians.
If that wasn’t enough, in the coming month’s AR (Augmented Reality) is also expected to rise exponentially. The lack of offline experience and the inability to inspect objects closely means buyers may want to get the best understanding of the product. AR facilitates that beautifully and helps consumers in their decision-making process.
Omnichannel would get cemented further in 2021, so I expect brands to invest in this even more. The rise in mobile shopping and local searches means more and more businesses would look to capture as many touchpoints as possible. The offline store dependency meant fulfillment became a problem due to the pandemic. Thus, Selling wouldn’t be as one-dimensional in 2021. As such, brands are looking to diversify the sales channels. Sell on an eCommerce site, social media, marketplaces, brick and mortar outlets, and other channels.
Mobile Commerce is getting a significant boost in 2021. Furthermore, the reliance on smart speakers and AI assistants would mean that Voice Commerce will also get more prominent in 2021.
Retail Expert #2: Keith Fix, Founder & CEO, Retail Aware
CEO, Retail Aware
“Measuring in-store and real-time shopper behavior has proven invaluable you can optimize your trade spend and improve your ROI.”
In-Store Shopper Behavior Data. “Why can’t measuring data around a product display be as simple as adding website analytics?” Now, more than ever, companies are watching closely as consumers adjust their purchasing habits during the pandemic.
With this year’s massive ecommerce growth and a plethora of legacy retailers filing Chapter 11 retail is having a reckoning. Measuring in-store and real-time shopper behavior has proven invaluable to navigate these changes so you can optimize your trade spend and improve your ROI.
Tracking digital analytics and POS data is easy but doesn’t offer a full and clear picture of the path to purchase. The missing middle piece is in-store shopper behavior. Forward-thinking brands, retailers, and their partners use shelf-level data to understand the full purchase funnel from digital ads to in-store behavior, to POS data.
For the first time, it’s possible to measure real time data points from in-store shopper behavior around dwell time and engagements at the shelf level without expensive camera equipment. These are critical measurement metrics for the customer path to purchase as increased dwell time leads to higher interaction and conversion rates.
Other important data points to track include out-of-stock notifications, shelf placement, execution, and mis-merchandising, all before the negative sales data comes back. These things have saved our clients quite literally, millions of dollars. Several of the brands we work with are using overall customer engagements divided by total unique customers to calculate an engagement percentage. They compare this number against sales data to make quicker, more informed decisions that increase ROI.
We’re at the earliest stages of the in-store data revolution and you don’t have to be left wondering anymore. This data is vital to the optimization and ultimate success of your retail strategy going forward.
Retail Expert #3: Jon Cheney, CEO & Co-founder, Seek
“Integrating innovative technologies like augmented reality in store and online will continue to have a big impact on retail next year”
Integrating innovative technologies like augmented reality in-store and online will continue to have a big impact on retail next year. Over two billion phones are capable of displaying high-quality, true-to-size AR content, unlocking a new reality for shoppers. AR experiences have become highly relevant today both in-store and when shopping online from home as we continue to practice social distancing.
With eCommerce, customers can use their smartphones and bring products to life from the safety of their own homes to increase buyer confidence. In-store QR codes can also be placed next to products so customers can obtain more information while minimizing human contact.
Brands that have been early adopters of AR technology have seen a significant lift in sales for several years. Seek’s customer data shows a 150% increase in conversion and a 25% decrease in returns. Time to make buying decisions has been cut in half.
Retail Expert #4: Helene Berkowitz, Founder & CEO, ReceetMe
Founder & CEO, ReceetMe
“Digital transformation is a top trend for 2021, as consumer demand for digital experiences such as AR solutions, touch screens in fitting rooms, and voice-controlled shopping are on the rise.”
Contactless shopping. With the pandemic as the driving force behind more hygienic retail processes, contactless shopping will be a top trend in 2021. Consumers are hungry for simple, frictionless solutions that reduce physical contact between store associates and themselves.
Biometric payments. This feature is becoming more commonplace in Europe and Asia. It’s likely to start growing in usage in the US and Canada this coming year, as well. Growing demand for shopping without carrying wallets or credit cards will become a new trend.
In-store digital solution. While ecommerce has skyrocketed, brick-and-mortar shopping will still exist, and in some markets like dollar stores and convenience stores, will continue to grow. Digital transformation is a top trend for 2021, as consumer demand for digital experiences such as AR solutions, touch screens in fitting rooms, and voice-controlled shopping are on the rise.
Cash transactional data. Despite the rise in mobile payment options, cash is still king. Retailers want to tap into the unbanked and cash-centric market and will utilize digital platforms to identify cash-paying customers and create sophisticated engagement tools.
Retail Expert #5: George Mirotsos, CEO, ContactPigeon
“Omnichannel shopping and marketing are becoming the new norm, representing 1 out of 3 shoppers according to a recent McKinsey survey.”
In 2020, we have seen an unprecedented shift towards retail digitization and eCommerce as a result of the pandemic. Yet, for many retail verticals, such as apparel fashion, brick-and-mortal remains an essential part of the shopping experience. In 2021 and beyond, we will see more consumers use a combination of offline and online channels as they shop.
Omnichannel shopping and marketing are becoming the new norm, representing 1 out of 3 shoppers according to a recent McKinsey survey. Technology is a core enabler for an omnichannel experience. It’s no longer about having an eCommerce presence. The ability to deliver cross-channel personalization, location-targeting, and unified customer insights will dictate which retailers can differentiate from competitors and capture the heart of the customers.
Retail Expert #6: Mohammed Ali, Founder & CEO, Primaseller
Founder & CEO, Primaseller
“Contactless and omnichannel retail will continue to see increased adoption by retailers”
Social commerce will see strong growth in 2021, driven on the back of the still looming pandemic and the reach of social media. Brands that took to social commerce, especially in 2020, have seen a massive return on investment in terms of sales. People will continue to be wary of in-store shopping and social commerce will make shopping online even more convenient.
Contactless and omnichannel retail will continue to see increased adoption by retailers. While the pandemic has given them a boost, they were already common practices were many retailers. This will continue to be so in 2021 as well. Many retailers will turn to become fulfillment hubs, which has been a saving practice during and after the lockdown. These will function as last-mile delivery stations that can cut down on delivery times and fulfillment costs.
Retail Expert #7: Clay Parnell, Managing Partner, The Parker Avery Group
Managing Partner, The Parker Avery Group
“The hottest trend for retailers to succeed in 2021 should be the strategic infusion of advanced analytics into their overall business models”
The hottest trend for retailers to succeed in 2021 and beyond without a doubt should be the strategic infusion of advanced analytics into their overall business models. As the 2020 pandemic thrust retailers into stretching their omnichannel capabilities beyond traditional limits to address the resulting global social disruptive issues, many quickly realized their existing data and analytics capabilities would not support continued viability.
The ability to holistically and deeply understand customers who may be hesitant to shop in a physical environment and who are increasingly more comfortable shopping at home extends way beyond providing a new user interface and attributing a shopper’s geographic location.
Analytics provides the means to get an intimate understanding of changed consumer behaviors, wants, needs and shopping patterns—including impacts of social, geographic, economic, and political factors—and this extends deep into the planning, demand forecasting, merchandising, and supply chain areas of any retailer. Retailers were traditionally hesitant to embrace newer technologies—particularly those “behind the scenes” in the corporate halls, but with new cloud-based, software-as-a-service models, advanced analytics is a realistic option that can be very quickly implemented and deliver results in just weeks—and at price points much lower than traditional system implementations.
Retail Expert #8: Paolo Sartori, Managing Director, TWC
Managing Director, TWC IT Solutions
“We expect the majority of businesses will be better prepared for these difficult conditions through 2021 and, in-line with this, we predict an increase in network and systems optimisation”
In 2020 we have witnessed several retailers’ networks being unable to cope with the demands placed upon them. This, in conjunction with an increase in Cyber Security incidents, potential server failures, and power outages means many businesses failed to meet their customers’ expectations, subsequently missing out on significant revenue opportunities.
With this in mind, we expect the majority of businesses will be better prepared for these difficult conditions through 2021, and in-line with this, we predict an increase in network and systems optimisation. This magnifies the importance of Systems Integrations, Unified Communications, Disaster Recovery, and Cyber Security and means these areas become integral components of the business continuity planning process. This will enable firms to efficiently process their customer data, avoid breakdowns and ensure operational effectiveness turning the revenue opportunities into real income moving forward.
Retail Expert #9: Kateryna Reshetilo, Head of Marketing, Greenice
Head of Marketing, Greenice
“Retailers who will be able to provide a seamless flow from different channels and empower consumers to choose their own path to conversion will win.”
Product Visualization. Now consumers have little to no opportunity to see, touch, and try on things in person, which leads to a greater need for better visualization of products online. Therefore, in 2021 even more online retailers will invest in 360 photos, AR/VR, visual search, etc.
More AI. Retailers will continue to unfold and harness the power of AI for their businesses. We will see even better personalization, safety, and dynamic pricing, all thanks to the developments in AI.
Omnichannel retailing. As most of the shopping goes on online now, consumers expect an even better omnichannel experience. Retailers who will be able to provide a seamless flow from different channels and empower consumers to choose their own path to conversion will win.
Retail Expert #10: Dylan Max, Head of Growth Marketing, Netomi
Head of Growth Marketing, Netomi
“eCommerce chatbots are going to dominate the retail space in 2021.”
eCommerce chatbots are going to dominate the retail space in 2021.
2020 was an exceptionally brutal year for traditional retailers who were forced to pivot to a much heavier digital-first strategy due to numerous lockdowns caused by COVID-19. Pier1, for example, closed its brick-and-mortar stores earlier this year as part of its bankruptcy plan and is now relaunching entirely as an online shop.
Now that attention has shifted to digital, eCommerce chatbots will emerge as a go-to technology to increase sales and customer satisfaction. In one study, Netomi found that this powerful AI chatbot technology can resolve up to 87% of all incoming support questions. Just imagine how much more efficient eCommerce brands could be if they choose to adopt a chatbot that engages in self-learning (i.e. getting more accurate over time), already integrates with a retailer’s existing tech stack (like Shopify, Magento, Salesforce, and Zendesk).
The ultimate reason why AI chatbots will be the trend of 2021 is because customers want answers and information at lightning speed and the only way to provide that scalably is with technology like a chatbot. Last year, chatbots were seen as a commodity. This year, chatbots for eCommerce will be viewed as a necessity.
Retail Expert #11: Carlos Castelán, Managing Director, The Navio Group
Managing Director, The Navio Group
“With the rise of more flexible fulfilment options during the pandemic retailers will focus on expanding those programs to as many stores as possible in 2021.”
One trend we expect to continue in retail in 2021 is continued investment and upgrade in the supply chain to provide a better customer experience via flexible fulfillment options.
With the rise of more flexible fulfillment options during the pandemic – such as click and collect as well as the curbside pickup – retailers will focus on expanding those programs to as many stores as possible or figuring out ways to improve those offerings for customers. The more retailers improve customer experience, the more likely they will benefit financially.
Features such as geofencing allow the store to be notified when a customer is nearby or en route to proactively come outside or even just working with a mall to have a centralized curbside pickup location for all stores simplify and improve the customer’s experience with these services.
Also, another trend, the continued investments to reduce the costs to fulfill orders or make more efficient use of inventory. Potentially reducing markdowns are helpful to the bottom line and, more importantly, customer experience. Helping customers more easily buy the product they want with the fulfillment method they find most resonant ultimately will help drive repeat purchases and customer retention.
Retail Expert #12: Cas Paton, Founder, OnBuy
“Since the pandemic, retail companies have turned to state-of-the-art technology to create a safer and more enhanced virtual shopping experience.”
Using Virtual Reality (VR) technology is a great way of enticing shoppers back into the store itself, providing a compelling in-store experience. VR is also being used in online retail to enhance product experience and to reduce returns.
Augmented Reality (AR) has allowed retail companies to provide a more ‘physical’ shopping experience, without the need for entering a store. An example of one retailer that has been using this technology to their advantage is L’Oreal, which offers a ‘Virtual Try On’ for customers to test out different products before committing to a purchase.
Also, retail companies can use AI systems to deliver customized recommendations to the shopper while they’re on the site and laser-targeted remarketing (based on the shopper’s behavior) when they’re off the site. This essentially means that companies are hitting the people with the correct message at the right time and place, in attempt to encourage a greater sales potential. This crossover between AI, remarketing and customisation is a huge emerging trend, and something which we predict you’ll be seeing far more of in 2021.
Retail Expert #13: Jonathan Frey, CMO, Urban Bikes Direct
CMO, Urban Bikes Direct
“Tons of businesses will prioritize customer personalization and AI-driven self-service solutions in 2021.”
Rather than relying on a support specialist’s availability, most customers say they prefer to have access to tools and resources that allow them to resolve an issue themselves. The recent pandemic-induced limitations of traditional customer support systems have only exacerbated this sentiment.
In 2021 and beyond, there will be a major focus on utilizing artificial intelligence, advanced knowledge bases, and increasingly sophisticated virtual assistants to put the power of support and resolution directly into customers’ hands. As multi-channel and omnichannel strategies become more popular, these same technologies will also be used in tandem with market segmentation to create seamless, ultra-personalized customer experiences.
Retail Expert #14: Anna Brettle, Founder, Stellar
“The pop-up shop concept will grow in prevalence where retailers build intimate branded experiences where consumers can shop and have items shipped to their homes.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a huge strain on traditional retail and led to the temporary closure of many brick-and-mortar stores, naturally accelerating the shift towards e-commerce purchases. Consumers are adapting their shopping habits to suit a new normal where choices may be more limited — what is in stock, what they can get delivered, and, in many cases, what happens to be open on their local high street.
The pop-up shop concept will grow in prevalence where retailers build intimate branded experiences where consumers can shop and have items shipped to their homes. With the appeal of short-term leases, pop-ups can also provide greater interactivity with consumers than traditional physical stores. Pop-ups will pump more money into digital in-store experiences and reduce their costs on square footage and unproductive inventory.
Retail Expert #15: Alexandra Zelenko, Senior Marketing & Technical Writer, DDI Development
Senior Marketing & Technical Writer, DDI Development
“Having customer-centric solutions will be essential for any retail business in 2021.”
Having customer-centric solutions is essential for any retail business. One of these solutions is to provide omnichannel support that is a basic necessity that many brands should offer.
Omni-channel service enables seamless, integrated services across all channels such as desktops, mobile devices, etc. A customer can switch among channels and communicate with the brand. Omni-channel customer support opens up an opportunity to serve your clients in a variety of ways that are not only convenient and effective but boost your brand’s image and credibility.
Retail Expert #16: Allan Borch, Founder, Dotcom Dollar
Founder, Dotcom Dollar
“Due to the great need for the survival of retail stores, more and more business individuals are opting for tech-driven solutions.”
As the pandemic continues, the needs for brick and mortar businesses need to adapt even better to assure their survival. With this, some businesses are starting to build their e-commerce divisions. And with the emergence of advanced technologies, the VR shopping experience is not impossible anymore.
It will be possible through AI, robotics, IoT, and extended reality, including virtual and augmented reality. The mixture of these technologies would allow shoppers to shop in offline stores without interaction with other individuals. Gradually, this concept is being promoted by Amazon’s cashier-less stores and Walmart’s initiative of allowing customers to order and pay for their purchases and having them delivered at home.
Bottom line: Due to the great need for the survival of retail stores, more and more business individuals are opting for tech-driven solutions that would help them to continuously make sales.
Retail Expert #17: Oliver Baker, Co-founder, Intelivita
“There is a huge increase in the number of retailers that are relying now on advanced analytics to determine the right items that should be stocked in their stores.”
This makes AI truly essential in the inventory management of retail stores. Now, with the challenges being faced by retail store owners in encouraging their customers to visit their homes, it is very likely that they would use AI for their marketing outreach. That said, expect that there would be more advertisements from retail stores that would pop on various platforms such as social media in 2021.
Retail Expert #18: Chris Bolz, CEO, Coara
“Brick and Mortar Retail brands will also be forced to innovate and embrace an omnichannel approach at the same time staying focused on the ease of the customer journey.”
The switch to “online-first” will make retailers double down on their online presence. Businesses will now need to innovate as they stride for consumer attention since the competition will increase as more companies adopt online advertising.
Retailer brands that have physical shops will also be forced to innovate and embrace an omnichannel approach at the same time staying focused on the ease of the customer journey. Take the example of Amazon Go as it uses Object Identification to improve the checkout experience. Even more, people are starting to explore other platforms and were places to spend their time online. And with even more retail brands going online-first this will lead to an increased market saturation on the main social media channels.
As many retailers have similar target audiences, the usual approach to ads won’t be as effective, since it’s going to be harder to stand out from the competition. Retail businesses in marketing efforts will explore also other media platforms and place more focus on organic traffic and SEO marketing in 2021. Making retailers take a step back and look at how they can make their customers come to them, rather than chasing after them with paid ads.
Retail Expert #19: Adam Stevens, Digital Marketing Manager, Pure Pet Food
Digital Marketing Manager, Pure Pet Food
“80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalised experiences.”
Personalization is huge in our world of pet food, but we see this trending throughout all retail avenues. Many companies from pet food, to skincare, to vitamins, to even mortgages, are building advanced recommendation and personalization platforms that allow them to fully tailor the customer experience.
A report from Epsilon states that 80% of shoppers are more likely to buy from a company that offers personalized experiences. A Forrester report citing that 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience. It’s a massive advantage over your competitors if you can offer a personalized experience.
At the beginning of 2020, we did just that and switched to personalized service for our pet food customers. Since then, we’ve seen a huge improvement in not only acquisition but also retention. It was a decision that has allowed us to now be recognized as one of few fast-growing pet food startups in Europe.
Retail Expert #20: Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
Founder & CEO, Mavens & Moguls
“Omnichannel creates a seamless experience for customers regardless of channel or device.”
Omnichannel. Consumers now engage with a company in a brick-and-mortar store, online or mobile app, by catalog, or via social media. Every piece of the consumer’s experience should be consistent and complementary.
People use multiple devices during a single transaction process. Make sure that you are able to listen and respond to these interactions. E-commerce retailers should preserve items in a shopping cart across devices so if you add an item to your mobile shopping cart, it should still be in your shopping cart when you access the site on your desktop too for example. If you recently bought a pair of pants they can recommend a great shirt or sweater to go with it.
BOPIS (buy online pick up in-store) and curbside pick-up was a non-existent service pre-Covid. Any general merchandise retailer not offering these services for their customers to buy is going to be in serious trouble even after the pandemic.
Retail Expert #21: David Shell, Marketing Manager, TradesmenCosts
Marketing Manager, TradesmenCosts
“Amazon Echo and Google Home are now becoming a part of every household. This encourages users to perform voice searches and place orders accordingly.”
Voice Optimization records show an increased sale of smart speakers. Amazon Echo and Google Home are now becoming a part of every household. This encourages users to perform voice searches and place orders accordingly. It is essential to perform voice SEO because around 20% of smart speaker owners use it for online shopping, and the figure is expected to rise to 52% in four years. Retail businesses will compete for voice SEO to target this user base. If your business is on Amazon, this could be a vital boost for your business.
Retail Expert #22: Tim Hill, Co-founder & CEO, Social Status
Co-founder & CEO, Social Status
“We can expect to see personalised shopping feeds roll out on social channels in 2021.”
I believe the hottest retail trend of 2021 will be algorithmic shopping feeds on social media. We’re already starting to see this now with Instagram. The latest update to the Instagram app placed the Shop tab very prominently on the main navbar.
We can expect to see these personalized shopping feeds roll out on the other social channels in 2021. What this means for consumers is that the products we see on social and around the web will become even more curated than they are currently.
Much like how the News Feed has created echo-chambers for information & news which adhere to and confirm one’s world views – the same will happen with these shopping feeds. We’ll see products that we’ve browsed already and other products hand-picked by the algorithm based on who we follow, where we browse online, and what we interact with.
All these data points will be matched with everyone else to find patterns in purchasing behavior. These patterns will be identified by the algorithm to recommend products that we’re most likely to be interested in. Imagine a world where a shopping feed algorithm knows what you want to buy before you’re even aware of it.
Retail Expert #23: Ian Sells, CEO & Founder, RebateKey
CEO & Founder, RebateKey
“An interesting trend that I’ve been watching retail is the rise of the “Buy Now, Pay Later” model.”
An interesting trend that I’ve been watching retail is the rise of the “Buy Now, Pay Later” model. Under Buy Now, Pay Later pricing schemes, consumers can choose to pay off the price of an item in monthly installments, instead of all at once.
Buy Now, Pay Later is interesting because it feels like an extension of the subscription economy. There’s no shame in spreading the cost of a product out over the course of a few weeks or months. This year especially, consumers are holding their purse strings a little tighter, so a monthly payment plan for big-ticket items makes sense.
Buy Now, Pay Later lets people get the products they want and love, but without the high initial first investment. For companies that make products that come at a higher price point, Buy Now, Pay Later is a trend to watch. It can make luxury goods much easier for consumers to buy.
Retail Expert #24: Brad Fagan, Senior Market Insights Expert, Uberall
Senior Market Insights Expert, Uberall
“Consumers will still engage with their local stores for things like buying online and purchasing offline, so a strong local presence and strategy is key for retailers.”
Localized Presence. When we grouped all brands, and markets (UK, US, Germany, France), we found that driving direction requests only dropped by 50% while phone calls increased in this period by 73% and website visits increased by a whopping 135% (Uberall data). What we do know is that approximately half of all searches are local, when Covid hit, consumers still engaged with local results as the data above suggests (habitual local search), but what we found was that when they found that a store was closed they visited the website or made a phone call instead.
Local engagements increased massively in the month of March and there have been other studies done since that confirms that consumer search trends still favor local, because they think within their communities.
Data from a recent Accenture study showed that 80% of consumers feel more connected to their communities since Covid and 88% feel it will stay that way after Covid has ended. Finally, a study by Visa in March found that 81% of adult consumers have shopped online since March and crucially, 31% used e-commerce for the first time. This suggests a real shift for consumers towards online shopping for the upcoming holiday season shifting into 2021.
Consumers will still engage with their local stores for things like buying online and purchasing offline, so a strong local presence and strategy are key for retailers but it’s equally important to give consumers options to purchase online and then also to provide delivery and pick-up options directly from the store.
The second key thing for retailers, in particular, is to understand the platforms where your customer-base is searching and have a local presence on those channels. Giving consumers choice is essential for ensuring engagement and retention but being visible for all stages of that consumer journey is also important across search engines, social media platforms, review sites, and directories.
Retail Expert #25: Bilawal Gul, CEO, The Fashion Jacket
CEO, The Fashion Jacket
“Anticipate seeing a lot of chat-bots and virtual assistants on your favorite brands’ websites and retail stores in the near future.”
Without a doubt, last year, 2020, saw online shopping becoming a reality, especially due to the pandemic. It gave a huge bump to the retail industry, becoming more digitalized. Hence, to keep up with the changing trends, it’s highly expected for the industry to introduce AI-driven models for driving sales.
Anticipate seeing a lot of chatbots and virtual assistants on your favorite brands’ websites and retail stores in the near future. The domino effect of this trend will also be on voice assistant devices, another notable trend for 2021, as it is predictable for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home to be found in around 75% of U.S. households.
Retail Expert #26: Sonu Bubna, Co-Founder, Shopper
“2021 will be the most important year for brands to engage with real micro and macro influencers and not just celebrity endorsements.”
Direct to Consumer. Contrary to widely believed predictions, online sales will not have the same importance as before. A new trend of shopping directly from manufacturers and brands through influencers, advertising, and TV channels will boom and this trend has already started.
Earlier influencer marketing was all about overly produced ads or sophisticated marketing campaigns. But, today’s savvy shoppers pay more attention to real aesthetics and real reviews. From a partnerships perspective, 2021 will be the most important year for brands to engage with real micro and macro-influencers and not just celebrity endorsements.
Another interesting trend that we might see is the uptake in personalized gifts. Consumers spent most of the year in lockdown and may have missed birthdays, anniversaries, or other important occasions of their loved ones. 2021 will be a good time to compensate for this and order something more personalized to express their love and appreciation. In the last couple of months, we’ve already observed a surge in sales for personalized gifts. Consumers are buying from personalized mugs to personalized curtains and so on. Compared to last year, the uplift in sales for personalized gifts is over 40% on our platform.
Retail Expert #27: Vanina Schick, Co-founder, Popular.coffee
“In 2021, customers buying online will increasingly expect and seek out the same kind of personal welcome and direct interaction as a high street store.”
In 2021, the industry will be looking at how to take the experiential dimension of retail into the digital space. When I created Popular.coffee, I wanted to make buying coffee online feel as good as visiting your favorite local coffee shop.
One of the reasons we enjoy going to coffee shops is because the background music can inspire and transport us. An inspiring ambiance is a big part of the magic of retail. Each of our coffees has its very own Spotify playlists that bring those special vibes to people in their own homes. It also helps give a sensorial feel for what the coffee will taste like.
Similarly, a friendly face is often what keeps customers coming back. Good retail is personal. On Popular.coffee anyone can book a free consultation with me to discuss home brewing. The goal is to offer the same quality of interaction as a physical store. In 2021, customers buying online will increasingly expect and seek out the same kind of personal welcome and direct interaction as a high street store.
Retail Expert #28: Antti Alatalo, CEO & Founder, Smart Watches 4 U
CEO & Founder, Smart Watches 4 U
“Anticipate more review sites spanning a variety of industries, ranging from consumer electronics to auto insurance.”.
Expect a boom in influencer marketing in 2021. Consumers are beginning to rely less on a company’s word and turn to non-biased reviewers that provide objective commentary on trending products and services. This is what I do as a smartwatch reviewer. Though I’m an Amazon affiliate, I am not a brand advocate for any one brand, so readers can trust that my opinions are not bought and paid for.
Anticipate more review sites spanning a variety of industries, ranging from consumer electronics to auto insurance. With this trend, expect more companies to shift more of their marketing budget and resources towards affiliate marketing. Those that take the role of affiliate marketer, though, will try to maintain an objective voice so their content doesn’t come off as a paid endorsement. Consumers have been so saturated with ads by this point that they can smell promotional material from a mile away.
Retail Expert #29: Chris Beaudin, Head of Marketing, ATLATL Software
Head of Marketing, ATLATL Software
“We expect that visual commerce, and in particular 3D product visualization and configuration will become a part of the regular customer journey.”
In-store shopping may no longer be the first choice for convenience, but consumers still desire the ability to see and engage with products before they purchase. As eCommerce grows, brands across industries have the opportunity to support their retail locations AND empower online shoppers with digital tools such as 3D product visualizations and 3D configurators to discover, engage with, and purchase the exact products they are looking for.
These dynamic experiences offer the chance to more thoroughly examine the product and increase consumer confidence in buying online or order ahead and pick up in-store. The possibilities with these digital tools are not limited to eComm though; digital experiences in-store offer shoppers the chance to explore products beyond what is available on the sales floor or even in sales inventory.
We expect that visual commerce, and in particular 3D product visualization and configuration will become a part of the regular customer journey across a wide array of products as consumers become more reliant on digital experiences.
Retail Expert #30: Bryan Philips, Head of Marketing, In Motion Marketing
Head of Marketing, In Motion Marketing
“One of the hottest trends in retail for 2021 is social commerce, selling products directly on sites like Facebook and Instagram.”
Social Commerce. We’ve definitely seen an increase in interest in setting up shops for our clients. I think this is a growing trend that will continue for years to come given the uptick in online sales due to the pandemic.
Retail Expert #31: Benjamin Smith, Founder, Disco
“VR and AI are already budding industries that online retailers can now leverage for an enhanced online shopping experience. “
Enhanced virtual retail experience is on the way in 2021. Commerce brands that are now forced into being e-commerce brands are going to develop their digital spaces to replicate the in-store retail experience.
VR and AI are already budding industries that online retailers can now leverage into their company for an enhanced online shopping experience.
Retail Expert #32: Jennifer Willy
, Editor, Etia
“Customer behavior is going through a lot of changes so it is directly affecting the retail sector.”
The retail industry is facing a lot of changes and is going through a lot of transformation. Customer behavior is going through a lot of changes so it is directly affecting the retail sector. Some of the hottest trends in this sector are mentioned below.
The first one would be the personalization and consumer-centric approach. The shopping experience has to be focussed on customers. It should be based on their taste, location, history, etc.
Secondly, the digital wallet option is very necessary. Today, customers are always in a hurry and have this impulsive buying habit. For this digital wallet and digital money has become very important.
Lastly, extending markets and creating new channels have become a necessity. Technological advancement has made everything simpler, easier, and accessible and this is possible for retailers.
Retail Expert #33: Israel Gaudette, Founder, Linktracker Pro
Founder, Linktracker Pro
“We’ll be seeing retailers putting up eCommerce kiosks and pop-up shops onto the high street.”
With the rise of online shopping, offline eCommerce booms as well. In my retail business, putting a pop-up shop was a huge success. And in 2021, more brands will definitely do the same as well. To be precise, the internet will be brought into real life. We’ll be seeing retailers putting up eCommerce kiosks and pop-up shops onto the high street.
The rules of retail will be rewritten post-pandemic. These short-term stores are surely set to thrive. With it, you can follow your customers out of town providing them not only an uninterrupted service but tapping to new customers as well.
Showing up where it makes sense will be the greatest strategy for retailers. It’s a great way to experiment with the market and picture out what’s in it for their business and grasp what return they’ll get. And it’ll ensure that everything will fall in their favor.
Despite the rapid growth of online retail, creating a real connection with the customer is the ace physical retail still holds. And in the years to come, it will matter more than ever to offer an experience that can never be replicated.
Retail Expert #34: Lucas Robinson, CMO, Crediful
“In 2021, AI customer sourcing is going to be a major trend.”
A hot trend for 2021 is AI customer sourcing. Artificial intelligence is already used in eCommerce to make intelligent product recommendations, helping customers visualize products better and assist them with customer queries.
However, in 2021, AI is going to help find your customer for you too. Algorithms will analyze current trends alongside your products, sales, customers, and buyer behavior to identify the best channels, time, and price to list your products. This will save you hours and hours of number crunching, graph creating and will help brands accelerate sales and boost profits.
Retail Expert #35: Stewart Dunlop, CEO, PPCGenius
“Many retail companies are already making the most of Augmented Reality by allowing their customers to experience their products and many will follow.”
According to statistics, people who try products using VR technology are not only more likely to purchase but also less likely to return them. I think Amazon has already started to implement Augmented and Virtual Reality which helps in minimizing the challenge of shopping for clothes, furniture, or makeup to try on the color.
When you are shopping for a red-lipstick, it is not that easy. From fire-engine red to maroon to ruby, there are a number of different tones to choose from. To resolve this very difficulty, L’Oréal has partnered with Amazon to allow buyers to try on lipsticks and decide the right shade by using their phone or computer cameras. The L’Oréal and Amazon partnership also helps those who prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar shops. With this digital try-on solution, consumers won’t have to use the same samples that have already been used by strangers, thus eliminating common hygiene issues.
Amazon is also working on furniture companies to making the most of Virtual Reality by allowing their customers to experience how the furniture would look in their homes including many beauty and retail brands use this technology to give an idea to customers about how a product will look before buying it.
Retail Expert #36: Hosea Chang, Chief Operating Office, Hayden Los Angeles
Chief Operating Office, Hayden Los Angeles
“More retailers are going to either go 100% online or start to integrate the online into their shopping experience even in stores.”
It’s going to be all about online. We’re already exclusively online, so that’s a win for us and it’s served us well this year, but I think way more retailers are going to either go 100% online or start to integrate the online into their shopping experience even in stores.
Click & collect and curbside pick-up may very well become the norm, shopping online inside the store on tablets, returning at drop-off locations – anything that makes the process quicker, simpler, and more streamlined. I think this year has shown a lot of people that online shopping can be convenient and isn’t to be avoided, so I predict a lot of people will continue to shop online.
With brands like Amazon offering services where you can try out a product without paying unless you keep it, why would anyone even venture out to regular stores? The future is definitely in online shopping and streamlining methods of payment, of trying products, and of integrating the digital and the physical experience.
Retail Expert #37: Danny Pollack, CEO, Bespoke Extracts
CEO, Bespoke Extracts
“I believe there will continue to be a larger adoption of AI use across more departments.”
We already see it logistics, chatbots, and so forth, but I believe we’ll begin to see a larger adoption of AI in product recommendations, personalized online shopping experiences, and video chat. I believe retailers will also adopt this technology in their support system. Saya consumer needs to know some technical features and wants to have a walkthrough of the product, they could be offered a chance to connect to a live representative who can then hop on a videoconference and walk them through what the consumer needs.
Retail Expert #38: Carol Tompkins, Business Development Consultant, AccountsPortal
Business Development Consultant, AccountsPortal
“AI becoming more customer facing, rather than just remaining in the back end.”
As a highly experienced professional in the online B2B retail industry, the biggest retail trend in 2021, in my opinion, will be AI becoming more customer-facing, rather than just remaining in the back end. We are bound to see more robots on the shop floor, as well as AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants. AI-powered voice technology will also be used increasingly to make purchases online, and online retailers will adapt their website structure in order to incorporate this capability.
Retail Expert #39: Janine Mulone, Founder, Feel Good Retail
Founder, Feel Good Retail
“In 2021, brands would be wise to put significant resources behind personalization.”
Personalization. With the personal touch of brick and mortar retail being severely diminished – consumers are looking for unique engagements with the places they shop. Whether that be segmented and personal brand touchpoints throughout the customer journey or exclusive, distinctive products. Collaborations, customization, and curation will reign.
Retail Expert #40: Alexander Berenov, CEO & Co-founder, Inspector Cloud
CEO & Co-founder, Inspector Cloud
“The biggest trend for offline retail in 2021 will be the further adoption of AmazonGO-like technology.”
The cease of self-driving robots’ pilot in Walmart that should have solved out of shelf challenge doesn’t necessarily mean that the technology is doomed to fail. The next generation of will more cost-efficient and will combine mobile apps with CCTV cameras for selected categories to monitor. The permanent check of the shelves will help to raise availability for fruits, veggies, dairy categories and it could be a possible way out for offline retail that struggling to survive.
Retail Expert #41: Werner Jorgensen, Marketing & Sales expert, Tooleto
Marketing & Sales expert, Tooleto
“Social media influencers are currently the top trend and will continue to rise in 2021.”
Dark Store. The dark store’s purpose is to pack and complete the online orders rather than preferring to open stores for public shopping. This trend is already rising and will continue to rise in 2021 as many grocers, warehouses, and shopping stores are being utilized as dark stores. There will be many dark stores and automated micro-level fulfillment for various online services such as clothing, home decor or renovation, or pharmaceutical.
Micro-influencers and video marketing. Unlike the old days, social media influencers are currently the top trend and will continue to rise in 2021. It’s all because of the fact that influencing, promotions, or advertisements through influencers are much more than just a cool, high-quality photograph. A good and effective marketing video has taken its place. For example, TikTok took the internet by storm, and now Instagram is following similar features. Short clips are a more reliable way to convey a message or promote a brand than posting just an image. Influencers with high profiles play a significant role in the retail business.
Retail Expert #42: Jason Hawkins, Partner, Advertising for Surgeons
Partner, Advertising for Surgeons
“One very promising trend we will see going into 2021 for retail is the use of artificial intelligence (AI) combined with machine learning.”
Historically, businesses spend a great deal of money on marketing. However, where most retailers drop the ball is on the follow-up. Unless the potential customer is heading into the store, the follow-up is usually horrific to put it nicely.
On average, we found that more than 80% of businesses we’ve worked with do not follow up with leads who did not follow through (come into the store) that are more than 2 weeks old. This is a huge waste of funds and there are several platforms available to help assist with lead nurturing done with AI technology as following up with hundreds of leads is a full-time job that several small businesses simply cannot afford. By re-engaging previous customers, retail businesses in 2021 can expect an uptick in sales via making their marketing spend more efficient.
Retail Expert #43: Matt Bertram, CEO & SEO Strategist, EWR Digital
CEO & SEO Strategist, EWR Digital
“With the pandemic limiting in-person interactions, AI solutions, particularly chatbots, are stepping in to fill the gap.”
Chatbots are virtual replacements for face-to-face support and when powered by AI can enhance the customer experience in a fun and memorable way. Chatbots offer streamlined processes, decreased wait times, and 24/7 support.
The most advanced chatbots now can survey consumers and offer personalized recommendations, and brands can use chatbots to create fun virtual experiences to replace real-world ones. For chatbots to offer the most value they should be customized to convey your personal brand message and tone to set you apart from your competitors.
Retail Expert #44: Martin Seeley, CEO, MattressNextDay
“Influencer content has slowly transitioned to a fresh, authentic aesthetic, and this change will most likely continue into 2021.”
I believe that influencer marketing will be high on the retail industry’s rise for the next year. It used to be all about carefully-constructed captions, selfies, and heavily-edited product shots. However, already in 2020, we’ve seen a significant shift in the way influencers and brands work together.
Influencer content has slowly transitioned to a fresh, authentic aesthetic, and this change will most likely continue into 2021. Videos will be the most crucial tool for influencer partnerships. With most brick-and-mortar stores closed, buyers cannot test products or services in stores, so a video is the next best thing. Companies have already started partnering with influencers to create and share content on Instagram Live, Instagram Reels, IGTV, and TikTok.
Today, users trust brands that showcase genuine voices and can spot an overly-promotional ad from a mile away. Brands that don’t put authenticity in the first place for their marketing strategy shouldn’t expect to get high engagement and ROI next year. Overall, the focus will be on unique influencer content that prioritizes entertainment, education, and the viewer experience.
Retail Expert #45: Damon Routzhan, Founder & CEO, Concrete Candles
Founder & CEO, Concrete Candles
“More brands will be trying to promote themselves on Amazon and build a strong creative presence there in 2021.”
Amazon has got to be the biggest online retailer in the world. Their distribution network is massive! If you’re on Amazon, you’re basically everywhere, and that is what every brand is trying to achieve these days.
More brands will be trying to promote themselves on Amazon and build a strong creative presence there in 2021. The numbers are only increasing and it can be seen from Amazon’s this year’s revenues of $ 88.91 billion! To help companies achieve this goal, the global retailer has also launched quite a few tools that help to build a strong and unique brand identity. These tools include Amazon OTT, Amazon Posts, Brand Stories, Sponsored brand custom image, and Video in sponsored brands.
Retail Expert #46: Robin Brown, Sales Expert, Vivipins
Sales Expert, Vivipins
“Having an identity for your brand on Amazon has become crucial for any retail business as it can be a source of trust.”
As we all know, Amazon is the strongest platform for online shopping with a considerable amount of daily users. Having an identity for your brand on Amazon has become crucial for any retail business as it can be a source of trust. Brand identity on Amazon will get you recognition on the most known platform and help increase your user base. Amazon has now added new tools for brands to build a unique identity. Going into 2021, your identity on Amazon will be a decisive factor for users to determine the authenticity of your business.
Retail Expert #47: Gilad Rom, Founder, Huan
“The hottest trend we are seeing is influencers becoming brand partners, committing to ongoing relationships with brands.”
We have embraced influencer marketing to grow our audience and we see other brands following suit. The hottest trend we are seeing is influencers becoming brand partners, committing to ongoing relationships with brands over an extended period of time. Influencer marketing is such a boon to retail brands because most brands have difficulty creating enough content to fuel their marketing campaigns.
By effectively outsourcing some of their content creation to influencers, brands can widen their reach while leveraging the credibility and trust of the influencers. Brand partnerships with influencers are effective because it takes around seven touches to make a sale. So one-off influencer posts are likely to be insufficient. Long-term committed relationships with influencers are more likely to build the audience engagement required for people to make a purchase.
Retail Expert #48: Brett Downes, CEO & Founder, Haro Helpers
CEO & Founder, Haro Helpers
“Augmented Reality as a new way to try the product would be the most emerging retail trend for 2021.”
Augmented reality (AR) technology can support “try-before-you-buy” expertise, which will become more common. Right now, customers prefer less contact with people, and products that others may have touched. While there is no doubt more customers will return to markets as health protocols relax, there will also be a lasting development in online shopping. AR was already showing flashes of growth prior to the pandemic, and it offers answers to today’s retail challenges. As a result of the pandemic, brands in footwear, jewelry, and designer fashion are offering new virtual try-on or seeing growth in enduring apps that help shoppers shop from home or more safely in the store.
Retail Expert #49: Irina Weber, Content Strategist, SE Ranking
Content Strategist, SE Ranking
“We will see the increased use of chatbots in 2021.”
As Covid-19 has limited in-person experiences, more and more retailers will increasingly cut down face-to-face customer support. To meet this need, more and more companies would use chatbots and personal assistants. We will see the increased use of chatbots in 2021 that can recreate the fun and unique in-person experiences in the digital space.
Retail Expert #50: Andriy Haydash, Business Owner
Business Owner, andriy.space
“Platforms like Amazon will become even increasingly more popular among retail store owners.”
2020 has obviously been a very difficult year for retail stores. In my opinion, it has shed light on the fact that so many stores don’t sell online yet. This is why I believe that more and more retail store owners will try to do more sales online.
Whether it’s via an e-commerce website or even directly via Facebook marketplace or other job boards, I feel like there will be a big shift towards online e-commerce. It’s not a surprise that platforms like Amazon will become even increasingly more popular among retail store owners. Those who will be able to adapt their business to online selling will keep their business afloat. The rest is likely to suffer a huge hit and may even go out of business.
Retail Expert #51: Filippo Decotto, E-commerce and Marketing Director, Ploumanac’h e-commerce
E-commerce & Marketing Director, Ploumanac’h
“The ability to create hybrid experiences will continue to solve the problem for retailers.”
2021 is going to be a great year for retail, both online and offline. Although the hard times saw recently impact the current economy, the craving for shopping is growing worldwide. It’s essential to highlight that retailers active on social media with a strong personal presence are the ones breaking the records (in a positive way).
Online retails is also growing very fast, with a significant lead of marketplaces. From Amazon to Alibaba to Yoox and Net a Porter. In particular, keeping customers to return to these powerful platforms is not just the vast offer, but the trust factor they built over time and the ease of making a purchase. Smaller online stores can still survive, but they will need to keep up with world-class user experience and e-commerce services to stay relevant in 2021.
Following the lead of major marketplaces, we noticed how by encouraging our customers to create an account on our website, they purchase more often than before, increasing customer lifetime value and their relationship with the brand.
A new trend we have been witnessing is the hybrid on-off-line experience. Many customers of ours prefer to browse the collection online but make the purchase in-store later on. Although it may seem a negative behavior, we notice it is actually strengthening our relationship with retailers and creating substantial brand recognition. In the clothing industry, the tactile experience is still a dominant factor influencing the purchase. Creating hybrid experiences solves the problem.
Retail Expert #52: Kasia Slonawska, Marketing Executive, NapoleonCat
Marketing Executive, NapoleonCat
“We believe that 2021 will only reinforce the trend and Instagram will become one of the leading marketplaces in the world.”
In response to the new pandemic reality, Instagram unveiled a couple of commerce-friendly features that allow users to discover brands and shop directly on the platform of their daily use.
Shoppable posts, Instagram Shopping, gift cards, live streams, and support small business stickers – just to mention a few – are features that gained huge popularity in 2020 and they’re already widely used by brands and creators all over the social media platform. We believe that 2021 will only reinforce the trend and Instagram will become one of the leading marketplaces in the world. All eyes on Instagram, Retail, and eCommerce Professionals! Or should I rather say “iCommerce Professionals”.
Retail Expert #53: Daniel Shapiro, Founder & CEO, Fourlaps
Founder & CEO, Fourlaps
“The classic consumer will skip through the traditional Google ads but they will sit through sponsored content their favorite influencers produce.”
As we have all forcefully traded our in-store retail experience for ecommerce, social media, and influencer marketing is bigger than ever. Youtube content creators foster so much growth for companies alone, specifically in the beauty and wellness industry, through paid sponsorships on daily lifestyle and vlog content.
The classic consumer will skip through the traditional Google ads we have all come to despise on the videos we watch but they will sit through “tutorials” and sponsored content their favorite influencers produce. This new wave in advertising is all the rage as it provides organic engagement and direct sales inspired by the discount codes tailored to the influencer.
Retail Expert #54: Jake McKenzie, Content Manager, Auto Accessories Garage
Content Manager, Auto Accessories Garage
“2021 will be a time to cultivate brand loyalty and retention of existing customers.”
Acquisition costs are rising to an all-time high and customers nation-wide are becoming more cautious of targeted ads and other traditional eCommerce tactics. What the modern shopper wants is a more human relationship with the brands they do business with.
Paid search and social media advertising have risen steadily in 2020 while many eComms have seen the ROI steadily fall. That makes the existing customer base one of the most fertile pools to market too. If you have the holy grail of the customer’s email address and a direct line of contact with an established relationship, then the ball is in your court to bring compelling content to this audience.
Retail Expert #55: Michael Miller, CEO and Security Evangelist, VPN Online Multimedia Inc.
CEO and Security Evangelist, VPN Online Multimedia Inc.
“Companies will start to accept crypto as a valid payment since consumers will demand a change.”
With the on-going changes happening right now, one will stand out in the retail industry – a new payment method. Cryptocurrency has been gaining steam, and with this comes the new payment system. Crypto will be accepted worldwide and will create a considerable change. Companies will start to accept crypto as a valid payment since consumers will demand a change. Just like how everyone accepted digital wallets because of no contact payments policies, so will crypto be accepted because of its security. It will be hard to fake crypto-currency, and that will launch it to worldwide acceptance.
Retail Expert #56: Eliza Nimmich, Co-founder / COO, Tutor The People
Eliza Morrison Nimmich
Co-founder / COO, Tutor The People
“Autonomous logistics projects are expected to stay centered on ‘last mile’ technologies throughout the next year.”
This one has been on the horizon for a while, but we’re expected to see ideas such as self-driving delivery cars and drone delivery finally come to fruition with the pandemic-driven improvements we’re bringing to our behavior this year.
While transitioning to online shopping and deliveries decreases the risk of coming into touch with virus-carrying persons, there is still a fear of infection at order fulfillment centers or distribution networks triggered by bad hygiene. These threats are minimized by autonomous distribution, which is a trend likely to contribute to increased recognition and implementation of these emerging technologies. Autonomous logistics projects are expected to stay centered on ‘last mile technologies throughout the next year, using self-driving cars and aerial drones for trips between distribution centers and homes for customers.
Again, many trends to handle distribution and routing would be involved here, including AI. Some would most definitely include blockchain, to maintain authentication and openness around supply chains, and digital twinning, facilitating the development of complex logistics and delivery models, driving productivity.
Retail Expert #57: Mason Miranda, Credit Industry Specialist, Credit Card Insider
Credit Industry Specialist, Credit Card Insider
“Partly due to the rise of fraud and the pandemic, there has been an increase in consumer use of digital wallets, like PayPal and Venmo, and mobile wallets, like Apple Pay and Google Pay.”
The two hottest retail trends are online shopping, and mobile and digital wallet use. Based on survey data from Credit Card Insider, over 50% of shoppers will be doing most of their shopping online this year for the holidays, and 36% said they’d shop both online and in-store.
Partly due to the rise of fraud and the pandemic, there has been an increase in consumer use of digital wallets, like PayPal and Venmo, and mobile wallets, like Apple Pay and Google Pay. These forms of payment are proven to be safer from fraudsters because they help avoid skimming technology at checkout, and they mask the original card number with a temporary one. These forms of payment are also contactless, which means they provide one more way to eliminate a physical touchpoint during the pandemic.
Retail Expert #58: Arash Mossafa, Director of Operations Manager, ShipBuddies
Operations Manager, ShipBuddies
“Vendors seem to be leaning heavily on interactive product visuals.”
Across the globe, we have seen a spike in online shopping. A spike of almost 130% in retail sales year-over-year in eCommerce since 2019. A trend that has never been seen before. With COVID still significantly impacting the world, we do not see this unprecedented growth of the eCommerce industry slowing down anytime soon.
With shifting purchasing habits, Shipbuddies is noticing many of our clients utilizing browsing behavior, purchase behavior, and search inquiries to cater to their online shoppers. Per Optinmonster.com online customers spend 48% more when their experience is personalized.
ShipBuddies is also witnessing another avenue of significant traction in social commerce through celebrity endorsements or influencer marketing. BigCommerce is suggesting growth of 65% in influencer marketing budgets.
Last but far from least, our vendors seem to be leaning heavily on interactive product visuals. Allowing buyers a 360-degree view of their products via their website. This gives the customer greater confidence in the product; allowing them to experience the product versus the traditional static image view. Every ambitious online merchant should be aware of these trends. 2021 will dictate how important it is to adapt to the market and be conscious of new eCommerce technologies and developments.
Retail Expert #59: Chris Laan, Founder, Designer Sheds
Founder, Designer Sheds
“One major trend I’m looking forward to in 2021 is an emphasis on hyperlocal marketing.”
One major trend I’m looking forward to in 2021 is an emphasis on hyperlocal marketing. Even companies with a national or global profile learned the value of the local business when supply chains were disrupted this year. It’s more than just pandemic blowback, however—hyperlocal marketing works best for optimizing for voice search, which is continuing to take off among consumers.
It won’t just be marketing that goes hyperlocal in 2021. Collaboration with other businesses to help stay afloat is going to be essential, as are promotional events both on and offline to draw in attention. Overall, the retail environment we’ll see in 2021 will rely strongly on reestablishing brand identity and expertise in an increasingly uncertain world.
Retail Expert #60: Paul Twite, Managing Director, EMEA, Toluna
Managing Director, EMEA, Toluna
“Consumers have or expect to trade down, and 59% report purchasing lower cost or private label brands to save money given current financial concerns.”
Brand switching and “trading down” are common. Brands have catching up to do to keep consumers loyal and keep them from “trading down” in light of financial concerns. In terms of consumer loyalty, brand switching has increased. According to our Global Barometer study, 59% of consumers report that they’re more open to trying a new brand than they were before COVID-19.
Consumers have or expect to trade down, and 59% report purchasing lower-cost or private label brands to save money given current financial concerns. Brands can prevent switching by considering their approach to brand advertising, and how their core values are communicated to consumers.
Local brands may find a competitive edge and can expect to see a renewed focus in many cases. More than 60% of consumers report that they’d like to purchase locally to know that their purchase has a local benefit, and where they came from.
Trend: Consumer spending is changing, and they’re saving more. Job security is a global concern, with 23% of people are worried about their jobs. Levels of concern are highest in the Asia Pacific. Consumers feel stressed about job security and finances. As a result, we’re seeing that close to 40% of people worldwide have changed the way that they spend — and save — money.
We expect this changed view to continue into 2021 in several key ways:
- Not only do people plan to save more, but we expect a renewed focus on budgeting.
- Many consumers will trade down, looking at “contender brands” for household staples.
- We’ll also see cautious spending this holiday season.
Retail Expert #61: Ed O’Brien, Founder, EGO Custom Eyewear
Founder, EGO Custom Eyewear
“The online marketplace will diversify, with retailers looking to use virtual construction and augmented reality tools that allow clients to visualize their purchases.”
Moving into 2021, I predict large divides in the marketplace. I expect to see budget-friendly options grow significantly. As general retail adjusts to the new reality of many people recovering from the financial downturn of 2020, and people being more conscious of how they spend their money. Resulting in many people continuing to do much of their discretionary purchasing online.
However, I also anticipate massive growth in the luxury and high-end segment as well. Much coming from new brands, representing new values and market segments, replacing some of the better-known brands in their markets.
We will see the trend of large retail stores closing continue. As those who do look to make in-person purchases will instead choose to interact with smaller, more personal retailers. The online marketplace will diversify, with retailers looking to use virtual construction and augmented reality tools that allow clients to visualize their purchases before making a decision.
We will also see growth in custom and one-off manufacturing as the luxury market moves towards mass-personalization, rather than mass-production.
Interested in learning how to adopt some of these trends for your retail business? ContactPigeon specialists are here to guide you on the topics of Retail Personalization, AI, Automation, and Customer Experiences.
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