Retail in the post-pandemic world

Retailers learned a lot over the last year—what worked and what didn't. The main takeaway from 2020 was that consumers embrace and utilize technology on all fronts to access brands and products.

Retail becomes truly omnichannel.

Retailers learned a lot over the last year—what worked and what didn’t. The main takeaway from 2020 was that consumers embrace and utilize technology on all fronts to access brands and products. In many ways, the pandemic completed the digital transformation of retail as consumers needed these digital tools to access essential products and services. Retail becomes truly omnichannel in the post-pandemic world.

Forced closures drove many consumers online for the first time, and eCommerce has never been higher. In the United States, online sales are expected to surpass $740 billion by 2023. Many attribute the pre-pandemic migration to online consumerism to the popularity of Amazon Prime, a trend also benefitting many other online retail outlets from this new level of trust and convenience built by Amazon Prime. However, this trend raises the bar exponentially on the demand for seamless access to products and services.

The buzzword of yesteryear: omnichannel—is now an actuality. Sometimes a word is used so many times, it loses meaning. Simply put: omnichannel is a cross-channel strategy that improves the user experience to drive stronger relationships and build audiences.

How is this is accomplished? Instead of working parallel, communication channels and supporting resources are designed and orchestrated to cooperate. These various points of contact include physical locations, mobile applications, social media integrations, or dynamically personalized marketing to create the experiences consumers expect.

With so many viable turn-key tech options and consumers geared for change, 2021 will be the year of the enhanced user experience.

Retail trends for 2021:

Physical retail becomes a blended experience.

Although eCommerce is at an all-time high, physical locations are transforming—not disappearing. The focus of several prominent retailers blends both online and physical shopping. The shopping experience of 2021 is geared toward an engaging, yet more physically-distanced shopping experience. An example of this trend is the overhaul of 200 Walmart supercenters into airport-inspired stores, complete with prominent digital signage, contactless checkout, and self-checkout solutions.

Retention, rewarding, and incentivizing existing customers becomes priority.

The eCommerce boom also brings tough online competition, and the power of existing customers has never been stronger. Brands will need to explore new channels of retaining existing customers and rewarding and incentivizing their social shares of your brands and products to organically expand audiences. The consumer experience can be enhanced through dynamic personalization in a way that makes each customer feel like your only customer.

The meaning of convienence will continue to evolve, quickly.

The idea of convenience will continue to evolve on a new level. Consumers worldwide are buying items rarely purchased online before the pandemic: groceries, toiletries, and other essentials. As basics become regular online, delivered purchases— increased control in the other realms of shopping will be required. Consumers will expect offline-online integrations that allow them to buy anywhere they browse, try products with augmented reality before committing, and feel confident about returns and exchanges. The next generation of shoppers is also embracing pay-over-time models and subscriptions.

Consumer vs. Retailer perspective

Although this technology’s ability to bolster brands has existed for quite some time, consumers are now ready to adopt this tech across every level. Consumers now expect the retail world to be in their pocket, literally. Retail has finally become truly omnichannel.

There is a high learning curve for the influx of novice shoppers, therefore online retailers should be clear and simple to remain competitive. User-friendly mobile integration will outperform sites that are hard to shop on. In addition, creating seamless checkout is key reduce cart-abandonment.

Consumers swiftly adapted to online shopping as the norm for shopping last year, and many retailers successfully pivoted early with creative tech-based solutions to keep their customers engaged, loyal, and shopping.

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