One study found 75% of consumers have tried a new store, brand, or different way of shopping during the last year. Retailers should take notice of these changes in behavior and expectations.
A year of online shopping has left customers with new expectations. With pick-up and delivery options, what will get customers back in retail stores? In-store experiences! In-store experiences are an opportunity to create lasting brand impressions.
Here are some trends to watch as retailers move towards the next normal.
TREND: Omnichannel is Not Optional
Omnichannel retailers will continue to thrive in the next normal. Omnichannel is a multichannel approach to sales, integrates different shopping and purchasing methods, creating a seamless (and somewhat customized) experience for the consumer. Through an entire buyer’s journey – discovering a product via social media, purchasing through the app, and picking their order up in-store – customers want continuity.
Retailers still operating with only a single channel will struggle to compete. Many retailers (and restaurants) adapted to meet health orders during the pandemic, creating an omnichannel experience. The new consumer behaviors and expectations will continue post-pandemic. Consumers want multiple channel options and a seamless experience across every channel.
TREND: Touchless Retail + Optimize for Pickup
Customers now expect touchless shopping and pickup options. Research found 84% of consumers expect retailers to keep BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store) and curbside pick-up options. Retailers should take note of grocers’ and restaurants’ established pickup and delivery options. For the most part, these establishments have streamlined the process and reduced a number of hiccups throughout the pandemic. Customers have come to rely on and expect these options and their convenience.
Scan & Go technology popping up in grocery can also be utilized in retail. Scan & Go allows customers to scan and pay for items unassisted and bypass the check-out counter. Amazon implemented this technology in their Amazon Go stores in 2018. Other retailers, including Sam’s Club, Walmart, Meijer, and Kroger, followed suit.
The integration of technology will provide ease to retailers and consumers, while also reshaping the future of retail.
TREND: Embrace Showrooming + Retailtainment
Embrace showrooming and retailtainment. Use these trends to bring your brand to life with immersive in-store experiences.
Showrooming allows customers the opportunity to see and experience merchandise in-store. When executed properly, an online purchase follows a customer’s showrooming experience. Retailtainment creates an immersive in-store experience. The experience brings the brand to life in a way the digital experience cannot. Think of all the senses – touch, smell, sounds, and sight. Shoppers get this experience while avoiding wading through many options, and retailers benefit from a curated in-store assortment. Then, add in the connection with customers through space, experience, and service, and you have a winning combination.
Showrooming and retailtainment have become popular as customers grow more accustomed to e-commerce. Experiential showrooms are an incentive for customers to visit brick-and-mortar stores, balancing customer service and new experiences. Showrooms bridge the gap between the traditional physical space and e-commerce.
TREND: Smaller FOotprints
E-commerce is king. Ease and convenience will continue to rule the retail world, even as health orders are lifted. Customers are used to grabbing their smartphone, searching, and purchasing. At this point, it has become a way of life. With more products moving through e-commerce, consider store footprint and adapt accordingly.
Showrooming allows retailers to utilize a smaller space for on-stage merchandise. This allows for optimized space within the store. Pick-up, warehousing, delivery, and distribution systems can have dedicated spaces. A showroom can become the center of a spoke and hub distribution hub. This streamlines store operations and customers’ shopping experience.
TREND: Embracing and Improving Technology
Embracing and improving technology integrated into the retail experience will optimize brands for the next normal. Research shows 81% of consumers expect retailers to offer seamless purchasing across devices. Another 51% of consumers say they have “abandoned a purchase due to having to restart their order on a separate device.” Having a seamless shopping experience across channels is more important than ever.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology can add to the in-store, and out-of-store, experience. AR technology can provide additional information about merchandise displayed in showrooms. AR can also be used to place products in homes or virtual try-ons, integrating an in-store experience in your home. Last year, Shopify reported 94% higher conversion rates for items with AR technology integrations than items without. VR can create immersive in-store experiences for customers. Major retailers such as Target, IKEA, Home Depot, and more have already adopted AR and VR technology.
What's Next for Retail?
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