(Image Source: Forbes)
2020 caught many retailers by surprise with unpredictable shopping patterns and nationwide lockdowns. As we move into 2021, what are some of the learnings retailers can carry forward to the next year?
- Conscious consumerism takes center stage
The pandemic has motivated consumers to shop more responsibly, i.e. to “buy less but buy better”.
“The pandemic has encouraged consumers to be more conscious of their shopping choices and wanting to ‘do good’. These values are also something that consumers want the brands they’re buying from to reflect, with our research suggesting 83% of Brits want companies to do more to integrate environmental considerations into their products and operations” explains Chris Biggs, Global Head of Retail at Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
- Shopping local remains key
In 2020, consumers frequented local stores more than larger shopping centers. It appears that the desire to shop locally will likely continue into 2021 as many people remain unwilling to travel to larger malls as they continue to work from home. Moreover, this trend was also driven by consumers’ passion to support local shops. “Supporting independent and local is a call to action in itself and reflects positively on a consumers’ personal brand,” says Biggs.“With our research showing that 41% of consumers intend to buy more locally in the future, independent retailers should focus on using their local appeal to help them stand out. They must market their local produce and emphasize their positive role within the community to appeal to the more conscious-consumer”.
- Physical retail fights back
Online retail has experienced a huge boost as a result of the pandemic but physical stores are slowly gaining back their popularity. Consumers would want to visit retail stores for the physical shopping experience as a result of “lockdown fatigue”.“The New Year offers a fresh appreciation of shopping and bricks and mortar retail, bringing with it an opportunity for the high street to evolve. In the West End, we are focussed on improving the experiential, mixing shopping experiences with world-class commercial, cultural, residential and hospitality, that offers a new meaning to the shopping experience; a repurposed global destination for the world to visit” says Jace Tyrrell, CEO at the New West End Company.
- Technology continues to reshape retail
In 2021, technology will continue to empower consumers to do product research before making purchases in-stores/online. The understanding that there only exists one customer journey, which may move between online and offline channels before a purchase is made, will soon become the norm.“The pandemic has driven lots of brick-and-mortar retailers to rapidly experiment with services that make it significantly easier for their customers to shop with them online. I think the rapid experimentation we’ve seen in 2020 is going to really bed in and lead to some incredibly slick, compelling ways to shop locally in the online world. The ability to immediately check local in-store availability natively in Google or Facebook will become as commonplace as checking opening times is today,” says Nick Brackenbury, co-founder of software company NearSt.Brackenbury further explains, “Technology certainly has a major role to play in making it easier for a shopper to shop with a brick and mortar store, but ultimately the store itself still has to deliver a compelling experience you can’t get online.”