Modern Retail

2020 Retail Trends

2020 retail trends

It’s no secret that 2020 has presented retailers with some unexpected challenges. This piece will outline 2020 retail trends, as well as giving a look into the future. Modern Retail had the pleasure of listening to three experts talk about recent events, impressive innovations and what retailers can expect in 2021.

These experts are:

Sarah Carroll – Founder of Grow Global

Jim Herbert – VP Europe of Big Commerce

Nick Brackenbury – Co Founder of NearSt

A shift in consumer behaviour

Consumers’ demands have shifted drastically since the beginning of the year. Speaking at Linn Academy 2020, here’s what the panel had to say about 2020 retail trends: 

Jim: “The main one is the adoption of ecommerce. Any retailer that already had a slick ecommerce operation has moved more towards their ecommerce stores, also looking at making sure they have good instore inventory levels instead of only in warehouses, so they can be more agile. A lot of retailers have realised that they have to do ecommerce. We have seen the adoption of technology to overcome some of the barriers that have presented themselves this year.”

Sarah: “There’s been a need for many to quickly adapt to ecommerce. One of the biggest drivers that we have seen is an emphasis on functional websites, as retailers can’t go to visit distributors or attend tradeshows. Whether it’s through websites, social media or marketplaces, there has been tremendous growth in this area. The move towards investing in digital, whether it’s through Facebook or Google Ads, or taking SEO more seriously, is here to stay.”

Nick: “We all saw a massive shift in behaviour moving online. Our data showed that there was an increase of 3-4x the number of people going online to check stock, which doesn’t necessarily translate to an online sale. People are getting used to the fact that they can check instore availability online and if stores can master this, it can be very useful for them.”

2020 retail trends takeaway:

  • Major adoption of ecommerce and digital
  • Focus on agility
  • More need for functional websites
  • Growth in demand for online stock availability
2020 retail trends image

Who is the new target consumer and what do they want?

Retailers’ target markets may have changed in recent months. 2020 retail trends have seen cohorts that don’t typically use the internet often, learning to shop online, as well as a focus on community, ethics and communication.

Here’s what the experts had to say:

Sarah: “People that haven’t had time to invest into digital are now placing more of a focus on this and are looking at the entire lifecycle, benefiting sales as well as relationships with customers. For me, it’s about using social media and online channels to build a closer relationship with consumers.”

Jim: “We have seen many people that don’t necessarily have smartphones or aren’t used to computers adopting tech. Retailers must prioritise user experience to make sure it is accessible to everybody, including those that might not be as used to it.”

Nick: “We’re seeing a greater level of awareness in the growth of localism and environmentalism. These aren’t new concepts to people but the way we have to transform how we are buying things is a major change. There’s also the need to consider the different generations that have come into the online world.”

2020 retail trends takeaway:

  • Need to develop and grow customer relationships
  • Experience must be user-friendly
  • Wider range of generations using ecommerce
  • Focus on ethical and local retail, communities and the environment

Which retailers and 2020 retail trends have stood out?

There are many retailers that have done incredible things this year. Some of the larger retailers have set examples that independents have been able to get inspiration from, tapping into popular 2020 retail trends.

These are the panelists’ stand-out performers and 2020 retail trends:

Sarah: “Amazon has really stood out for me. Their seamless ecommerce experience is what they have been working towards for years. It’s quick, easy and simple which is why a lot of retailers are going onto Amazon now.”

Nick: “Sigma Sports springs to mind. They are so well polished that you would expect them to be an enormous brand but they actually have two stores that have understood their customer base and excelled against much bigger rivals. They have looked at their service-led instore experience and created a fantastic online experience that gives customers exactly what they need.”

Jim: “There are many in the DIY sector that have done incredibly well in 2020. Taking Screwfix as an example, their omnichannel capability has been fantastic. They offered click and collect in a COVID-safe way so quickly and adapted to new ways of working to take advantage of the market.”

2020 retail trends takeaway:

  • Focusing on omnichannel experiences has enabled retailers to succeed
  • Ability to make quick changes has improved customer experience
  • Allowing consumers to shop in their preferred ways is essential

Following on from these 2020 retail trends, click here to read 9 ecommerce trends to watch out for in 2021.

Holly Worthington

Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail's Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today's ever-changing market.