The ongoing pandemic means that there are still challenges ahead for retail stores. Even with vaccinations on the way, it’s clear that some retail shopping behaviors are here to stay.
We have compiled some of the latest research on the topic. We’ll discuss which trends are a stopgap until stores reopen. We’ll also explain which trends have staying power in the post-COVID-19 world.
The Rise of Omnichannel CommerceAs the pandemic hit, non-essential stores closed down. Many single-commerce businesses soon realized they needed to adapt and change. This was not without its losses, though.
New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, saw major losses. The city saw the most chain store closures in over a decade. One in seven stores closed in some form or another in 2020.
All at once, eCommerce became much more relevant in the months after the pandemic. According to a Shopify Report, eCommerce saw 10 years of growth in three months.
As retail stores closed down, the ability to meet customers online became essential. Omnichannel marketing became the chosen path for essential and non-essential businesses.
Customers want products that are fast and easy to buy through various channels. That means that retail will have to use omnichannel services to remain competitive. Although, that is only one of many trends here to stay in 2021.
Contactless Payments and Other ServicesEssential stores, like local groceries, had to adapt and change to meet the needs of customers. Many grocery stores pivoted and began offering curbside pickup.
Some stores gravitated to contactless payments. According to the National Retail Federation, 67% of retailers now accept contactless payments. And some stores have adopted cashireless tech to increase safety needs and cut costs.
Other stores took it a step farther and turned locations into online warehouses. Whole foods reinvented the purpose of stores to meet the demands of online shopping. Select locations became “dark stores,” operating warehouses for online shopping.
From March to April, online grocery sales increased by 37%. On top of that, buying online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) became the more popular choice.
Digital-Savvy Retailers PrevailIn sectors such as fashion, it has been the tale of two worlds. Digital savvy fashion retailers saw tremendous sales, while others slow to change failed.
One example is UK’s fashion brand Boohoo who saw a 40% sales increase during the lockdown. They capitalized on the influx of online shoppers.
Promoting their lounge and sportswear on various channels, they picked up new customers. Their ability to use influencer marketing attracted a young and digital-savvy audience.
Their commitment to digital marketing made the pandemic a huge success for them in 2020.
Meanwhile, companies like Primark lost one billion dollars in the first half of 2020. Primark refused to sell online, which made sales stagnant throughout the lockdown. Stories like these echoed through the fashion industry during the pandemic.
Augmented RealityNew tools emerged during the pandemic to create social distant experiences. Augmented reality emerged as a tool for buying experiences in the beauty market.
Google launched an AR beauty app so customers could test make-up online. It allowed customers to try on make-up products from L’oreal, MAC Cosmetics, and more. It’s all done through a virtual platform.
Snapchat and Perfect Corp even teamed up to create an AR beauty-testing experience. It will allow over 200 beauty brands to create a virtual storefront on the app. These examples show that contactless shopping habits will persist after the pandemic.
Authentic Online Shopping ExperiencesBrick and mortar stores like Best Buy used appointments for personalized shopping experiences. While online brands looked for other avenues for a personalized shopping experience online.
Social shopping platform Verishop launched a group video chat shopping feature. It brings some normalcy back to online shopping. In the Verishop app, groups of friends can shop together using video chat.
Now IOS app users can use the “Shop Party” feature to browse and buy items with friends. It brings the old way of shopping with friends online. They also offer free shipping, fast checkout, free returns, and 24-hour customer service.
Who is to say whether this new trend sticks after the pandemic, but it’s serving a purpose in the meantime.
Virtual ShoppingSince the pandemic, physical stores lost almost 50% of their foot traffic. Ultimately, when left without human assistance, customers are more likely to walk away from purchases. That’s why shopping cart abandonment from eCommerce channels reached 69.5% in 2019.
Consumers spend significantly more per visit in-store than online. The trend was validated yet again in a recent First Insight Report, which found that 71 percent of all shoppers surveyed spent $50 or more when shopping in-store.
That compares to only 54 percent of respondents spending more than $50 when shopping online. Emotion plays a role in shopping behavior. There is a human side of in-store shopping, and shoppers crave that visceral experience.
Virtual shopping has become a growing trend during the pandemic. It has played a significant role in Asia and is now being picked up in other parts of the world. A great example of this is the Supersales app.
Supersales has brought the model of one-to-one personalized shopping experiences online. Supersales connects a customer browsing a product page with an in-store associate via video so they can view products live, ask questions, and get recommendations.
Investment In Delivery and Fulfillment IncreaseOne of the largest demands resulting from the pandemic was fast delivery services. Whether it was for groceries, dinner, or products, demand increased.
Many businesses relied on third-party delivery and fulfillment providers to meet customer demand. Amazon’s Prime shipping has made fulfillment speed essential to remain competitive.
Brands will have to get creative to keep up with Amazon’s fulfillment speed. Companies like Target are using store locations for in-store pick-ups as a bridge, it may be enough.
Right now, 80% of fulfillment gets completed at stores. But doing one-day fulfillment would mean a robust overhaul of current practices. It would also mean more emphasis on inventory, packaging, and delivery.
While it’s possible based on the number of locations across the United States, it’s still a tall order. Critics have balked, stating inventory would become an issue. If Target focuses on fulfillment, you can believe it will be a big issue in 2021 and beyond.
What Retail Trends Do You See Making an Impact in 2021?
While no one knows what retail trends will stick, it’s an important topic. What trends do you think will stick around after the pandemic?
We hope you found this article helpful as you look for ways to engage consumers in a post-COVID-19 world.
Whatever the future holds, it’s sure to be disruptive. It will create new technologies and provide opportunities for more efficient services.
Personalize Your Customer’s Online Shopping Experience With the Supersales AppTo remain relevant in the competitive online retail market, you need an edge. Businesses willing to create a unique shopping experience will be at an advantage.
Whether you decide to do that through customer service, personalization strategies, or sales is up to you.
Looking to humanize your customer’s online shopping experience? Consider Supersales. We offer a unique one-to-one live video experience.