As we look back at the enormous changes that 2020 brought to the world of retail, it is clear that a lot of these behaviours and trends will continue into 2021 and beyond. There is a greater need for retailers to meet consumers’ demands in order to succeed. This article will outline some of the most important 2021 retail trends we expect to see.
Ready to look ahead to 2022? Check out our rundown on the key Ecommerce Trends 2022.
Retail trends 2021
Here are just some of the retail trends 2021 may see continue to emerge:
Ecommerce – The recent growth of ecommerce has been significant, accelerating trends that we were already seeing emerging. Because of this, ecommerce has been one of the most talked about 2021 retail trends. It has meant that retailers have had to upgrade their online presence, offering online sales channels. Those that are able to offer this will be able to compete throughout 2021, regardless of lockdowns.
Omnichannel – It’s not just ecommerce that retailers must focus on. Those with a physical store should look to create a seamless omnichannel experience. This means making sure that all touchpoints remain on-brand, giving customers an enjoyable shopping experience whether they shop online, instore, or using a combination of the two.
Hygiene and safety – This has been paramount throughout 2020 and will continue to be vital in 2021. Customers will feel safe shopping with retailers that put hygiene and safety at the top of their priorities. This can range from queueing systems to social distancing markers, contactless payments and sand sanitiser stations.
Sustainability – This was highlighted as a major trend for 2020, and while retailers may have had to temporarily shift their focus elsewhere, this is still an essential consideration for shoppers. The shift towards ethical commerce continues in the list of 2021 retail trends, as more consumers look to shop with retailers that implement more sustainable practices.
Value – This does not only mean reasonable pricing. You should offer value to your customers, whether it is through fantastic customer service, a wide ranging offering or in-depth information that can’t be found elsewhere. Value is what makes specific retailers stand out from others, as well as being one of the major factors that creates a loyal following.
Changing instore habits – The traditional instore experience has become more transactional. People are not browsing in the same way that they used to, with masks and social distancing preventing people wandering around shops in search for inspiration. Instead, shoppers are coming into shops knowing exactly what they want, with many having already researched or looked up stock availability online.
How to prepare for retail trends in 2021
Now you know the 2021 retail trends that are emerging, these actionable steps will enable you to be prepared for success:
Contingency planning – COVID shook up the world of retail and its impact won’t be going away any time soon, making agility essential. Make sure you are prepared for any situation, having supply chains, warehouses, store leases and distribution channels that can pivot as required.
Upskill staff – There has never been a greater need for a wide-ranging in-house skill set. Hire effectively, understanding any gaps in knowledge, as well as offering training to those that could benefit from it. It may cost more to hire or train more skilled members of the team, but this could make the difference between delivering an outstanding customer experience and losing customers.
Invest in tech – There has never been a better time to invest in technology. While it may require time and budget, it is worth looking at the types of technology available that can improve customer experience, streamline operations and enable your business to grow. Peak online shopping is expected to be 50% higher, highlighting the importance of retailers’ tech infrastructures being able to deliver.
Prepare your website – More consumers are shopping online than ever before, with a notable increase in the number of people looking online for stock inspiration and availability before heading instore. Make sure your website can deal with increased demand, as well as providing customers with all of the information that they need.
Improve your omnichannel offering – Retailers must make sure they are reaching consumers in the ways that they like to shop. You should design a presence that carries the same messaging, brand values and level of customer experience whether it is online or offline, creating a seamless and frictionless omnichannel experience.
Be more eco-friendly – With a growing focus on eco-friendly retail, you should work towards making a positive impact. Speak with those in your supply chain to see if more environmentally-friendly methods of fulfilment can be achieved. Many customers are becoming more ethically aware and are making conscious decisions to shop with brands that reflect these values wherever possible. From changing packaging materials to sourcing locally and investing in carbon offsets, there are countless ways for retailers to make a difference.
Define and communicate values and USPs – Understand your values and USPs, tying these into the way you work wherever possible. Make sure you communicate this effectively to consumers and uphold your values, helping customers to feel passionate about your brand and create a more loyal customer base.
Make customers feel safe – Safety and hygiene will remain a top priority, playing a large role in whether customers visit instore or not. Give staff the support they need to implement and enforce measures such as social distancing and wearing masks. Create clear signage to make the instore experience as straightforward as possible and make sure hand sanitiser is available throughout the store.
Using physical stores more strategically – Many retailers will begin to use their stores to offer an experience that cannot be replicated online. They are likely to become increasingly experience-led and strategically placed to grow engagement and customer lifetime value. Stores create the opportunity for customers to experience the brand, interact with it, try it and talk to a knowledgeable member of the team, so retailers should ensure their stores are offering this.
By looking at each of these 2021 retail trends and the actionable steps you can take, you can begin preparations for the New Year and offer an unforgettable customer experience.
Click here to see some of the 2020 retail trends.
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.