Retail Industry Trends: What’s New?

Are you a retailer who wants to expand? Here’s all that you need to know!

The importance of the retail industry to a country’s economy can’t be understated. It helps ensure that the country is doing well in terms of production and consumption. In times of economic recession, the retail sector is one of the first to feel the impact. Let’s delve deeper into the current trends that are shaping the retail industry.

Types of Retail Sectors

Simply put, the retail industry is defined as the market which includes activities that involve the sale of goods and services. The transaction occurs from a company directly to the consumer. 

This industry is divided into three parts, such as: 

  • Food Products
  • Consumer Goods
  • Durable Consumer 

There are four different types of activities that are associated with the retail industry: 

  1. Fixed Location Retail: This refers to a conventional shop. You can easily find it around your neighborhood. Also, you can directly purchase products from these places.
  2. Supermarkets: You can think of supermarkets as places where everything is available. This can be anything from food commodities to tech items such as phones.
  3. Discount Stores: If you want to save money, things don’t get better than shopping at discount stores. This is where consumers will find off-brand items. In supermarkets products are found at reduced rates. 
  4. Temporary Shops: Such retail stores operate only for a limited period of time. You can find them in areas with high foot traffic. This happens because such shops are part of the company’s marketing strategy. It allows a brand to expand its reach. It can either be used to launch an upcoming product or reduce overall operating costs. 
Shift in Retail Landscape (Source: Nielseniq)

Following are the popular retail industry trends that are changing the landscape of the retail industry:

Expansion Into New Areas

In today’s modern age, social media is taking over, which means a new portal of opportunities has been created. In the post-pandemic world, a vast majority of retailers moved towards digitizing their operations. Through this measure, brands are aiming to sell their products with a reduced turnaround time. 

In 2023, a plethora of platforms will come under the spotlight that conventional retailers can use to boost their sales. Businesses will make such marketplaces an integral part of their marketing strategy. It’s an ideal way to connect with customers. 

Online shopping is something that’s non-negotiable in the future. This means that traditional stores would have to adjust accordingly. 

Protection of Consumer Data

The safeguarding of consumer data will remain a significant priority for U.S. retailers. It would happen to prevent major data breaches. This would not only incur financial costs but also harm their brand image. The stakes have been raised further since the implementation of consumer data privacy laws. This includes the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Businesses of all sizes will face greater scrutiny to protect customer data. Especially with Google’s decision to eliminate third-party cookies and Apple’s prioritization of privacy. Companies may face a steep learning curve. If not obeyed, penalties could be costly, particularly if the regulations are not applied across states.

Retail businesses collect consumer data for legitimate reasons. They must ensure that it is securely protected against cyberattacks. Failure to do so, especially with sensitive information like financial data, may result in significant lawsuits and fines. This damages brand reputation, and lost business opportunities in the future.

There are various detrimental effects that cyberattacks can have on businesses. Nevertheless, following cybersecurity best practices can decrease the likelihood of an attack and minimize the harm in the event of an attack.

Emergence of Micro-Fulfillment Centers

As e-commerce has flourished in recent years, colossal fulfillment centers have come to saturate the industry. Companies are now shifting their focus toward micro fulfillment centers. These facilities are significantly smaller than their counterparts. This enables them to be situated in closer proximity to the residential areas. Moreover, they allow businesses to leverage the decreasing costs. It particularly relates to commercial real estate in urban centers.

Malls and parking lots with unused space can be repurposed for micro fulfillment centers. An average Amazon fulfillment center spans roughly 800,000 square feet. A micro fulfillment center typically occupies less than 50,000 square feet. Some may even be as small as 10,000 square feet. Despite this size, these centers still fulfill customers’ expectations of prompt and complimentary shipping.

Automation of Consumer Buying Journey

In recent times, an increasing number of companies have turned to automated technology. This helps in formulating an accurate pricing model. This technology will become even more prevalent. It would enable retailers to minimize their workforce requirements.

Automation is set to play an even larger role in this sphere. A new wave of companies that provide automation solutions as a service will emerge. This technology will result in low implementation costs and reduce operational costs.

There’s an ongoing shortage of workers in certain industries. Investments in automation are likely to increase. Examples for small businesses include online pricing automation for balancing profitability and revenue growth. It also includes inventory management systems. This ensures optimal inventory levels throughout the quarter. 

The Power of Social Media

Social media has emerged as a crucial factor in streamlining the customer journey and online sales for numerous companies. Industry experts predict that hashtags and meme culture will be influential. Just as traditional advertising methods. Especially for small businesses targeting younger customers. Creative social commerce will facilitate this change. It will help utilize platforms like TikTok and Instagram to fuel online shopping.

Social shopping allows customers to shop on TikTok and Instagram. This trend will continue to grow among savvy retailers. Furthermore, there is an increased number of innovative social programming methods. Such as experiential marketing, is also gaining popularity. Live events streamed over social media platforms, whether in-person or online, provide significant brand exposure to prospective customers. 

Here Comes Experiential Retail Experience

As we approach 2023, it appears that experiences will make a comeback. Customers are looking forward to experiencing their favorite brands in a tangible way. While virtual and digital experiences still hold importance, in-store experiences are regaining significance. Retailers are striving to improve them for their overall business.

Retailers are prioritizing contemporary shopping methods like mobile checkout and virtual and augmented reality and are focusing on implementing these options. Providing quick checkout methods, such as mobile checkout and QR codes. This can create a seamless experience for customers. It would lead to increased engagement and satisfaction levels. 

Businesses that offer quick checkout methods see more sales, more repeat buyers, and lower abandoned cart rates. By incorporating options like “buy now, pay later” (BNPL), quick mobile checkout methods can also offer customers the flexibility they need.

Retail Becomes An Inclusive Industry

Businesses are continuously seeking novel approaches to reach customers and differentiate themselves from competitors. One method that remains prominent is multi-hyphenate storage. It incorporates a variety of uses, such as restaurants vending branded merchandise and retailers presenting digital services like subscriptions.

These stores are becoming increasingly common. Customers have purchased retail items from local restaurants in the past year. On average, non-restaurant offerings currently make up the majority of a restaurant’s revenue.

Diversifying offerings is critical for modern businesses to boost revenue and establish their brand. In a competitive business environment, businesses recognize the importance of multiple income streams. Business owners require user-friendly tools to manage their expanding offerings.

Offering Flexible Payment Options

The integration of buy now, pay later (BNPL) alternatives has enhanced the shopping experience. Younger consumers, in particular, are seeking such options. A majority of retailers presently offer BNPL alternatives. While the numbers decrease for other generations, stores looking to attract a new customer base may find BNPL alternatives advantageous.

Multiple recessions have influenced the spending and saving habits of Gen Zs and Millennials. It made them increasingly reliant upon credit and opt to pay for purchases over time with BNPL alternatives. BNPL alternatives will gain more widespread adoption. Retailers will need to meet the demand for payment flexibility. This measure would help streamline a customer’s omnichannel shopping experience.

If you’re interested in incorporating BNPL options, Square and Afterpay offer solutions to help you get started. You’ll see an increase in your conversion rate, which inevitably translates into a greater profit margin. 

Live Stream Content

Live-stream shopping is a marketing technique that enables businesses to showcase and advertise their products. This happens in real-time. During a live session, hosts engage with customers through online video features. By being live, this approach reduces the chances of image manipulation and creates trust between the audience and the brand.

Like physical retail, live-stream shopping allows brands to build personal relationships with their customers. It offers an immersive shopping experience. Aspects such as time pressure become non-existent. Customers can seek guidance from the hosts while exploring the products.

Live Streaming Content (Source: Facebook)

Benefits of Live Stream Shopping

Brand Awareness

Live commerce is a new trend in many markets. It has already achieved tremendous success in Asia, and several brands in America and Europe are now gradually integrating live commerce into their business strategies.

Brands that incorporate live commerce into their e-commerce plan are likely to distinguish themselves from other retailers in the market. By prioritizing innovative shopping experiences over traditional ones, live commerce increases a brand’s appeal and uniqueness.

For instance, let’s consider two popular kitchenware brands. One brand has adopted live commerce, while the other has not. The difference between the two is evident, as one has embraced an omnichannel approach that includes a newer feature like live commerce, while the other has confined itself to traditional methods.

Customers choose retailers that offer more flexibility. Moreover, if they cannot visit a physical store, they are more likely to make a purchase through live commerce.

Fear of Missing Out?

Live commerce sessions in one-to-many settings. Often, brands have time constraints when hosting a live video shopping session. This is meant for a large audience of shoppers. For instance, an influencer may only be live for 10 minutes and promote a specific product.

Consumers are incentivized to make purchases. During the livestream, potential discounts will be available. Or the ability to see others buying the product in real-time. This creates a sense of urgency. Oftentimes known as the FOMO effect. It is especially relevant on social platforms like TikTok. Where viewers can witness other shoppers making purchases. Viewers add items to their carts during the livestream.

Best Practices for Retailers to Follow

To ensure that you are actually getting return on your investment, you should follow the following best practices:

Opt for Personalization 

Personalization helps drive a positive customer experience. Brands should upgrade their in-store tech. This would allow them to collect and use customer data, which can help personalize an individual’s shopping experience. As a retailer, you would be able to track purchases, select sizes, and even find styles that interest you. These aspects contribute to an increase in sales. 

Utilize the customer data you gather to create personalized email campaigns that offer tailored recommendations. This could include customizing messaging based on their location and past purchase history. By segmenting your email campaigns, your customers will feel more appreciated and engaged.

Additionally, well-trained and supported employees can greatly enhance the customer experience. To achieve this, consider providing incentives to employees who prioritize making customers feel valued. By setting expectations and rewarding outstanding performance, you can effectively implement this strategy. Make it a priority in 2021 to motivate your employees in this way.

Loyalty Program- Digitized

To enhance the customer experience, one effective approach is to extend an invitation to join an exclusive loyalty program.

Through text and email notifications, members of your loyalty program can receive updates on exclusive sales and discounts. As you revamp your loyalty program for 2021, consider introducing a VIP tier to offer even greater rewards. Some businesses are even exploring premium programs that charge customers a small fee in exchange for regular discounts.

Your loyalty program should be viewed as a fundamental aspect of your long-term customer relationship. When developing your loyalty plan, it’s important to seek feedback from your top customers. Online surveys can offer fresh insights that you may not have previously considered.

Offer Money-Back-Guarantee

Establishing trust is crucial. Especially when dealing with online shoppers who can’t physically inspect or test products. You can provide customers with special assurances if necessary.

One way to build trust and show confidence. This can be done by highlighting the quality of your products. It is by offering a money-back guarantee. However, full or partial refunds can be perceived as e-commerce loopholes, and some customers may attempt to exploit them.

To safeguard against this, setting a time constraint is advisable. For instance, you can specify that the guarantee lasts for 30 days or two months, depending on the product’s specifics. Additionally, certain conditions can be established to ensure the validity of the guarantee.

Hiring a legal professional to create a policy for money-back guarantees is an effective approach. This is an excellent step to take for those seeking ways to boost e-commerce sales.

Upselling! Upselling! And Upselling!

Imagine a scenario where a customer is ready to purchase a coffee jar. On the checkout page, they receive a personalized recommendation for a larger coffee jar at a mere $5 more. The customer may feel tempted to upgrade their order.

Upselling is an effective strategy for increasing revenue. It establishes lasting relationships with your customers. It works well because it targets customers who are already familiar with your brand.

The best part is that you don’t need coding skills to implement an upselling process in your online store. There are several upsell apps that can be fully integrated with popular e-commerce platforms. Such as WooCommerce, Shopify, and others.

Bring Chatbots Into the Picture

Chatbots are intelligent tools that e-commerce businesses can use for conversational marketing. They are not only capable of guiding customers and asking basic questions. But they can also engage in extended two-way communication to build customer relationships.

With chatbots, e-commerce businesses can respond to customer queries. This can pertain to products and provide assistance with purchases. To enhance engagement rates, e-commerce chatbots can even be assigned human names such as John. 

AI chatbots have the ability to learn from previous user interactions. This enables them to personalize future conversations. It makes them well-suited for addressing repetitive customer inquiries. It also helps reduce the workload on human support agents. Chatbots are an invaluable resource for e-commerce businesses. They seek to manage chat queues and improve customer satisfaction.

Source: E-Marketer 2019/Economist Intelligence Unit 2020

Future of the Retail Industry

With the trends mentioned above, the future of the retail industry looks bright. All this would be possible if retailers embraced technology. Rather than waging a war against machines. E-commerce businesses should be focused on creating and developing their online stores. Shopify is the future for e-commerce business owners. It’s a straightforward website that would satisfy your audience. You can access a range of themes that are designed to provide a seamless shopping experience. Regardless of the device, your customers are using it. 

Additionally, you can check the adaptive version of your store’s design. This happens when you resize your browser. By making it smaller on a desktop, you’ll be able to see what your mobile audience sees. This is one of the numerous benefits of utilizing Shopify to manage your business.

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