Those in the retail space know that how and what customers buy has changed drastically over the past decade. These trends are especially relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as more than 60% of American buyers altered their shopping habits at some point in the past year. It’s crucial for small and large businesses throughout the retail industry to know what’s next.
Here’s a look at retail market trends in 2021 and beyond.
- What Are Retail Trends and How Do You Look Out for Them?
- 10 Retail Trends to Watch Out For in 2021 and the Coming Years
- Smart Marketers Stay Ahead of Retail Marketing Trends
- Remain Ahead of the Curve With Creative Displays Now Temporary Displays
What Are Retail Trends and How Do You Look Out for Them?
A retail trend points to development and changes in consumer behavior. These instances highlight how customers interact with brands, as well as how brands respond to them. It essentially highlights the state of the retail market and makes predictions for what’s on the horizon.
As a marketing manager, your main goal is to remain profitable and competitive while satisfying your customers. To stay on the cutting edge, you should know the retail trends that align with your brand. As a result, you’ll find yourself in the best position possible.
10 Retail Trends to Watch Out For in 2021 and the Coming Years
Below are the latest trends in retail marketing you should watch out for in the coming years.
1. A Blend of Online and Offline Experiences
Both augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are bringing online and offline shopping experiences together. However, it’s not necessarily a recent trend in the retail world. Before the pandemic, different retail brands deployed AR in showcasing their products to their customers.
For example, in 2018, Shopify launched Shopify AR, a toolkit for businesses to create and integrate AR into their online stores. Since its introduction, Shopify reports that product pages with AR content have 250% higher conversion rates than those without it. This feature meets increasing customer demand for AR to assist users in assessing products online. According to a NielsenIQ survey in 2019, 51% of global shoppers and consumers said they would use AR and VR to look at product offerings, if available.
However, COVID-19 made AR in retail even more crucial. That’s due to the lockdown in many cities across the world, which started a mass movement in online shopping. As a result, retailers have had to take their brick-and-mortar shopping experience to the web. This jump in e-commerce sales will only increase with features like AR and VR.
Here are some examples of brands using AR today to help customers take a closer look at their products:
- Sephora gives users an option to try on makeup through their cameras with AR software.
- Louis Vuitton allows mobile users to try on clothes, jewelry and more virtually.
- IKEA lets mobile users place virtual furniture in their homes to see whether they like it.
There’s no denying that this trend will keep moving forward, especially when innovations like these are happening at a rapid pace. In the future, it’s likely that consumers will demand AR to provide the ease and convenience of online shopping without missing out on the physical experience. AR and VR will grow from being nice-to-have technologies to becoming a necessity for retailers to stay competitive.
2. The Rise of Social Commerce
Here’s one of the latest shopping trends in retail.
Rather than being used to like posts and share articles, social media has recently become a space for what’s known as social commerce. Both physical stores and e-commerce platforms, like Shopify, are no longer the primary go-to place for online shopping. With the launch of native shopping on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, the use of social media is gradually morphing from just networking to direct buying and selling.
While this is a challenge for giants like Amazon, consumers and SMBs benefit from this development greatly.
First, consumers no longer have to click through multiple website pages to purchase a product they find online. Instead, they can discover, research and buy products on social media shops without leaving the app. Second, retailers can get in front of their ideal buyers faster. That’s because social media platforms offer unique data about user behavior, so retailers can in turn give them highly relevant and personalized product recommendations.
The rise and acceptance of social media platforms over the decades signify they’ll only grow as a retail outlet. In 2021 and beyond, more retailers will have social media stores in addition to their other channels. Also, more small businesses will spring up on social media shops, as they’re an accessible and convenient option. Brands that invest in getting more sales on social media shops will likely be more profitable and competitive.
3. Explosion in Artificial Intelligence and Big Data
To serve their customers online and offline, retailers are relying more on data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
As retail becomes more digital and competitive, brands rely on data to attract and satisfy their customers — and AI-driven data is a big player in making valid business decisions. AI will power inventory management to make more accurate forecasts on inventory and improve retailers’ ability to satisfy their customers both online and offline. This development will move the focus of customer satisfaction from increasing inventory to increasing product availability.
Additionally, AI is taking the front role in retail. Accelerated by the pandemic, the use of big data and AI now goes beyond inventory management to influence customer engagement at the front desk. AI tools such as chatbots and AI-assistants help customers assess and buy products. With these advancements, AI tools are no longer the sole property of big brands. Small businesses now access and use these tools to serve their customers.
There’s also increased use of AI and big data in marketing. To get more traffic and buyers to their physical and e-commerce stores, marketers rely on customer data to determine consumer behavior and preference as a guide for their marketing strategy and budget. Moving forward, brands that invest in big data analytics and AI will be more profitable and positioned to attract and satisfy customers and own a larger share of the market.
4. More Robots and Autonomous Vehicles in Order Fulfillment
Drones and autonomous driving vehicles are making order fulfillment faster. The rise in online shopping and preference for home delivery increased the volume of order fulfillment and last-mile delivery. For example, due to the pandemic, DHL reported an 86% increase in parcel shipments per day. To meet this exploding order volume, robots and autonomous vehicles fill in the gaps.
Brands like UPS and Walmart have been testing autonomous fulfillment since before the pandemic. With the pandemic and a preference for less human contact, robots and self-driving delivery systems are now taking center stage in order fulfillment. These companies now have the chance to showcase what they’ve developed behind the scenes.
In addition to autonomous delivery, more contactless delivery models are also becoming more common. For example, consumers are gradually opting for curbside pickup, a delivery option where customers order online and pick up their delivery at a designated location, usually at the curbside of the store. Technology makes perfect sense in these situations specifically.
Over the next several years, even with vaccination and the gradual return to normalcy, customers will still prefer to shop online. This trend will keep order volume high, so logistics companies will likely seek robots and other autonomous options to lift the burden. As a result, these innovations are here to stay in some way, shape or form.
5. A Gradual Elimination of Middlemen and a Different Kind of Influencer Marketing
For one of the most recent trends in retail, manufacturers are starting to partner with social media influencers to sell directly to consumers.
Selling directly to consumers benefits both the consumer and the manufacturer. On one hand, the consumer benefits from buying at the best price and getting personalized products and services from the manufacturer. On the other hand, the manufacturer engages directly with the consumer and enjoys greater control of the market. Also, manufacturers have the benefits of demand-driven production, enabling them to maximize production efficiency and gain real data on consumer behavior and interaction with their product.
However, there’s a notable downside to this retail trend. Manufacturers have to bear the burden of order fulfillment. But with the innovations in dropshipping and disruption in the order fulfillment industry, manufacturers can easily outsource order fulfillment to logistics companies and focus on what they know how to do best.
As e-commerce becomes more mainstream, dropshipping and the order fulfillment market become more competitive and cost-effective, so manufacturers have the means to serve consumers directly. This move gradually eliminates the wholesalers and retailers. Also, social commerce, influencer marketing, easy communication and the desire for customized products have made selling directly to consumers a simple task for manufacturers.
This development affects both online shops and offline retail outlets. Moving ahead, we may see more manufacturer-consumer transactions, affecting wholesalers and retailers. To fight back and remain profitable, retailers must improve their in-person customer experience and increase their focus on helping their customers get the products they want, when they want them and how they want them.
This disruption in the retail supply chain is also redefining influencer marketing and the kind of content used in that space. Eventually, influencer content will be more audience-focused and less brand aggressive. Manufacturers will partner directly with influencers to create content that falls at the intersection of marketing and providing value for their audience. Only manufacturers that create the right kind of content will get results with influencer marketing.
6. Growth in the Order-Fulfillment Industry and Same-Day Delivery
Consumers want their products delivered as soon as possible. That’s especially true now that Amazon has perfected the next-day and two-day delivery shipping model. In fact, 88% of customers will pay extra for same-day delivery. This increased desire for instant order fulfillment has led to an expansion in the order fulfillment industry.
Lots of logistics companies are springing up and services like Uber and Lyft are adjusting to this shift to help retailers satisfy their customers. Two retail giants are in front of this trend. Amazon already offers a same-day delivery option to their customers, with Amazon Prime, and Walmart can now deliver in two hours or less. However, Amazon is taking this to the next level. With Amazon Prime Air, customers can get orders weighing less than five pounds delivered in 30 minutes or less, using self-driving drones.
With these developments, we’re moving in the direction of order delivery coming down to minutes, not hours. The grocery and fresh food industry will benefit greatly from this development. If you consider the pandemic’s e-commerce trends, you’ll note that many people switched to grocery delivery in the past year. That’s expected to continue, creating more opportunities in logistics and security in order fulfillment.
To supplement the heavily burdened logistics system, other delivery models are taking the center stage. For example, there’s an increase in the adoption of Buy Online and Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) to fuse the convenience of online shopping and offline human connection.
In the future, there’ll be an exponential development in same-day delivery. This service offering won’t be exclusive to big retail brands. Instead, small- and medium-scale businesses will have the technology and resources to offer instant delivery to their customers. Consumers will always demand faster delivery and retailers who invest in fast last-mile delivery will remain competitive and profitable.
7. Consumers Are More Concerned About the Environment
Consumers are becoming more concerned about environmental, social and political ideals, aligning with brands who share similar goals and beliefs. For example, 71% of American millennials will pay extra for products if some of the proceeds go to charity. Shoppers are no longer evaluating brands based on just the benefits they provide, but also on their ethics and values.
The increase in online shopping has raised environmental concerns. That’s because more packaged product delivery means a boost in packaging waste and a higher burden on waste management and recycling. Customers will begin to align with brands that are concerned about the environment and put measures in place to curb the negative effect of their activities on the environment.
Companies that prioritize recyclable packaging, reducing their carbon footprints and avoiding fast fashion trends will likely have an edge on the competition.
8. Consumers Want Personalization and Customer Experience
As the retail market becomes more competitive, retailers are locked in a battle of offering the best customer experience. Customers want you to know what they want before they do. Brands that get this right will be more competitive and win a greater share of the market.
To achieve this advantage, retailers are taking a multi-channel approach to collect data on their customers, using the data to forecast their customers’ needs, stock the right inventory and offer accurate suggestions. Over the years, companies like Amazon have gathered data on their customers to build highly effective recommendation engines. Brands that want to stay profitable should consider investing in big data analytics.
Also, customers are more concerned about their health and hygiene than ever before. This trend reflects in their shopping preference. Due to COVID-19, 34% of U.S. customers say they’d increase their purchase of personal hygiene products. Those who can touch on these specific points will have an advantage. To remain competitive, you have to make your customers the center of your business strategy.
9. Local Shopping and Local E-Commerce
Big retail brands are moving closer to their customers, using local shops while maintaining a strong online presence. Similarly, retailers like Amazon are setting up more locations for customers to pick up their packages, meeting consumers in the middle. This effort to maintain a local presence helps retail businesses diversify themselves from competitors that strictly maintain an online presence.
Also, small brands are starting to rely more on e-commerce solutions like Shopify and other web-based services to remain relevant offline and online. As a result, we can expect a rise in local e-commerce, where small-scale businesses seek an online presence to meet demands. It’s the best way to access a new audience, as they can reach customers everywhere.
10. Growth of the Subscription Model
The subscription retail model is similar to every other subscription model. That is, retailers deliver products to customers monthly based on a payment package. Retail subscription benefits both the consumer and the retailer. Consumers have access to quality products at a relatively lower cost. Also, customers enjoy deliveries consistently without the recurring need to place orders. Further, the retailer benefits from predictable cash flow and a steady customer base.
While a subscription model typically only makes sense for some retail businesses, like those that sell food and beverage products, there’s no doubt they’ll continue to become popular in the industry.
Smart Marketers Stay Ahead of Retail Marketing Trends
For the foreseeable future, marketers in the retail world can expect to see various trends, including:
- Blending the online and offline shopping experience with the use of VR and AR.
- Using shoppable content on social media to reach new audiences and make products accessible.
- Employing AI in the form of drones and other devices to fulfill orders.
- Partnering with influencers to create eye-catching content.
- Selling directly to consumers in an attempt to eliminate the middleman.
- Striving to offer same-day delivery.
- Listening to customers’ concerns about social causes while adjusting to meet their needs.
- Prioritizing customer experience and personalization.
- Moving online to match e-commerce demands.
- More subscription-based models.
It always pays to be ahead of the curve. As a retail marketer, you want to attract customers in cutting-edge ways. Because trends can change at the drop of a hat, you should ensure your brand is ready to keep up. Using custom temporary displays from Creative Displays Now helps you showcase products in an attention-grabbing way, so customers know exactly where to go to pick up the items they want.
Increasing accessibility is huge in retail, as consumers want a quick, personalized shopping experience. However, you also want to anticipate what’s next for your customers’ interests, so having a way to change up a display in mere seconds gives you a significant advantage. As a result, your customers can find what they need and go on with their day, just as they want.
With endless customization options, you can ensure your product displays always look great — and catch your customers’ eye from the start.
Remain Ahead of the Curve With Creative Displays Now Temporary Displays
Creative Displays Now designs, prints and manufactures high-quality product displays and specialty packaging for retail stores. We have an in-house team of more than 60 experienced retail display experts with over 50 years in the industry.
We help retails stores manufacture cardboard POP displays and specialty packaging, including case stacker displays, floor displays, power wing displays, counter displays, brochure holders and pallet displays that help them adjust to retail development trends quickly and easily.
Check out a few reasons why our clients love working with us:
- We use recyclable materials like corrugated cardboard, made from post-consumer waste to protect the environment.
- We design and manufacture temporary displays to help retailers maintain design, product and market flexibility.
- We offer fast delivery to meet our clients’ ever-changing needs.
- We create custom displays to ensure clients have eye-catching, attractive displays.