Five retail trends and predictions to watch in 2021

- January 14, 2021 4 MIN READ

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that change can be quick and unexpected. The retail industry was impacted severely by the pandemic, but 2021 dawns with the sector in a far healthier state in Australia than at any other point during the pandemic. That’s because retailers, from family-run stores to multi-state, multi-outlet brands, innovated and capitalised on new and evolving trends to delight their customers, writes Gordana Redzovski, Vice President, APAC at  Vend.

Some of the trends that defined 2020 will remain and others will evolve, as ambitious retailers seek to grow in 2021. Predicting the future is tough, especially today, but continued growth and success could be dependent on these trends in 2021.

Certain pandemic behaviours will be here to stay

The pandemic has accelerated technologies and services that allow customers to shop safely. Most notably, click and collect and curbside pickup surged in 2020, while the use of contactless and mobile payments also increased as people prioritised safety and convenience. Indeed, almost half of Australian retailers now offer click and collect. According to McKinsey, 56% of consumers intend to continue using these methods after the pandemic, so offering them – alongside delightful in-store experiences – is essential. If you’ve started offering in-store pickup, for example, it may be time to expand to curbside collection. And ensure you’re geared up to accept all forms of payments, including Apple Pay and Android Pay, and buy now, pay later solutions – which are popular among cash-strapped shoppers.

Loyalty marketing will be more competitive

Maintaining customer loyalty was a challenge in 2020. One in three consumers (36%) tried new brands amidst the pandemic, and of those, 73% plan to keep switching brands. Evidently, shoppers aren’t afraid to try new products and behaviours, so you’ll need to work hard to keep existing customers engaged with your brand. One of the best ways to do this is to look at your customer data. Dig into the information and insights you have about your customers. Where are they from? What channels are they using? What shoppers do you have from a demographic and psychographic standpoint? Use these insights to segment customers and create personalised shopper experiences both online and on-premise. By grouping shoppers and tailoring your strategies accordingly, you can determine top customers and which might need to be re-engaged or re-thought. When customers feel understood and valued, their loyalty to a brand increases as a result.

Brands that get creative with content will win

Compelling content is – and will continue to be – king in 2021 and beyond. With consumers unafraid to switch brands, one of the best ways to keep shoppers engaged, and acquire new ones, is to produce content that truly resonates. Accomplishing this starts with knowing who you’re targeting and the themes, and styles they prefer. Knowing their pain points, aspirations, and what they relate to will help you craft your messaging. Equally important is knowing what platforms and media to use when distributing your messages. Video is popular, particularly among younger shoppers, with Instagram reels and Tiktok content gaining a great deal of traction. Getting creative with your content and being strategic with where you promote it will be crucial to stand out in 2021.

Expect a new focus on local retail

The ‘shop local’ movement, which surged in 2020, will go from strength-to-strength in 2021. Schemes that promoted the great and good of local Australian businesses gained a lot of traction, and with global supply chains still disrupted and a strong Aussie sentiment for ‘supporting local’, it will be a defining theme this year too. If you’re a local business, promote yourself within your neighbourhood; invest in campaigns, promote the shop local movement or partner with non-competing businesses to spread your reach.

Another way to improve your local presence is to boost your visibility online. Most consumers turn to Google to find local businesses, with 90% of global shoppers using online search before visiting a store. So, ensure your business is easily searchable online by populating a Google My Business profile with your contact details, store hours and other pertinent information. By adding photos of your store and encouraging your customers to rate and review your business, you can create a more enticing picture that could give your business the boost it deserves this year.

Consumers will be more intentional and less spontaneous with their purchases

With finances a heightened concern, shoppers are being more intentional with buying behaviors. Facebook found that consumers are planning their store visits further in advance with the help of online resources, and around two-thirds say their shopping decisions are planned, not spontaneous. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to show up at the “research phase” of your customer journeys. Understand the tools, websites, and channels they’re using in product discovery and trip planning, and ensure you have a strong omnichannel presence in those areas. To master this omnichannel approach, use a solution like Pointy from Google, which gets your products online, so customers can see what’s available before heading to your store. Pointy integrates with POS systems, like Vend, and displays in-store inventory on Google, so shoppers can verify product availability before heading in-store.

The dawn of a new year brings with it bright and bold resolutions, and for retailers to bring theirs to fruition in 2021 and beyond, local and loyalty, creativity and content will be crucial competitive advantages to leverage in the new era of retail.

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