2020 was a shaky year if you were a retailer, to say the very least...
But as we dust ourselves off from the effects of the pandemic and begin eyeing a recovery, we must take a second to acknowledge what has changed to properly prepare for what's to come.
This means conducting a thorough analysis of the emerging 2021 retail marketing trends for businesses to get a headstart on what will undoubtedly be a much busier year.
What kinds of consumer behaviour won't return to the retail industry? Is social media more important now than before? How important will it be to have e-commerce infrastructure set up after the pandemic?
All these important questions need answers for true retail success in 2021. We've looked around and gathered the most prominent emerging trends in retail marketing this year for your retail store.
Read on to discover the top retail marketing trends emerging this year, and the evidence behind their importance.
What lies ahead for 2021?
Given the variety of truly unexpected circumstances last year, any forecast made about what will happen this year can be considered highly speculative.
But if plans relating to the global vaccine rollout experience no significant delays or disasters, the outlook is cautiously optimistic.
The Centre for Retail Research forecasts a slow start to the year for retail as lockdowns and restrictions persist but suggest that there will still be a 2.4% growth in sales from last year's figures.
However, they do mention that the growth will not be concentrated in the hospitality sector.
By turning our attention to three key categories relating to projected retail evolution, we can identify the strategies and practices to adopt for a successful 2021.
First, we will look at the foundational changes to brick-and-mortar stores.
Which innovations will reshape physical retail?
The first trend to consider is the forced adaptation to a balanced omnichannel business model.
The once significant gap in customer experience between physical retail and e-commerce is getting narrower and narrower.
Through technological innovations such as secure mobile payment with Apple Pay, online checkout systems like PayPal and Square, and Amazon's 'Just Walk Out' technology, online and offline retail experiences are becoming equally convenient and experiential.
What effects will this have on your business?
Well, you should be looking to develop a meaningful online presence if you don't already have one – whether that means constructing an online storefront or developing engaging content and experiences online.
Aside from offering another viable sales channel, a strong online presence also provides marketing opportunities on a broader scale.
This brings us to the next point regarding online consumer behaviour.
The increasing importance of social media
Research suggests that over two-thirds of shoppers prefer real customer photos from brands on social media over professional photos.
Consumers place a high degree of trust on authentic customers' feedback on social media, and the same applies to a slightly lesser degree with digital influencers.
In what ways can you create or develop exciting digital marketing touchpoints to complement your physical store?
Influencer marketing, competitions, and giveaways are all examples of strategies that capture the increasing importance of social media applicable to an omnichannel business.
Social media isn't just a marketing platform either. Many major networks also feature digital storefronts where you can sell your products directly on the app. With customer trust in social media increasing, this should definitely be a consideration.
This can be achieved even without online fulfillment. You can allow customers to place orders online via social media or an ecommerce destination to be collected in person at your retail store.
The same study, which surveyed over 8000 consumers worldwide, also revealed that 62% of customers are more likely to buy if they can view photo and video content, stressing the importance of multimedia experiences.
What other ways can you engage potential customers through novel, highly rewarding experiences?
The rise of gamification
'Gamification' refers to the use of gaming-style mechanisms in contexts outside of gaming.
It's another example of a highly experiential redesign of traditionally low-engagement customer experiences like store visits and repeat purchases.
The concept has been around for a while, with Boston Retail Partners identifying that 87% of retailers planned to use gamification back in 2015.
Examples of retail gamification include implementing progression elements to track and advance customer interaction and 'rewards' systems to incentivize the completion of certain tasks.
Gamification is a powerful technique for supercharging customer loyalty. For physical stores, loyalty programs are amazing examples of engagement-boosting gamification.
For example, in loyalty stamp programs, customers are incentivised to revisit a store and make additional purchases to build their stamp collection to receive a reward when a certain number is reached.
We've got a few tricks up our sleeve for creating insanely powerful loyalty programs like loyalty stamps, but more on that later!
Lastly, let's take a look at an important social movement that has significant effects on the customer's willingness to shop at your store.
Consumer attention to environmental impacts
If last year has shown us anything, it's that the impact we have as a society on the planet can be disastrous if not kept under control.
While the pandemic was more closely related to the problem of unrestricted animal agriculture, the consequences of environmental destruction are potentially even more disastrous, and consumers are beginning to take note.
According to research by Accenture, consumers are "striving to limit food waste, shop more cost consciously and buy more sustainable options", directly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With significant climate change events happening in 2021 like the UN Climate Change Conference ('COP26') in November, consumer attention on environmental sustainability will only increase.
What can you do as a business to align yourself with the movement?
A relevant goal to aspire to for your retail store is operating under a 'Net-zero' carbon emission policy for your store and supply chain.
With these actions implemented in your retail operation, you now have an extremely valuable set of marketing assets that will offer a distinct competitive advantage over businesses without environmental policies.
2021 will hopefully be a year marked by a recovery in all aspects of consumer life and society at large.
The pandemic's devastating effects have forced a number of industry-wide changes to physical retail that have fundamentally changed how the sector operates for good.
In the coming year, pay attention to the following retail marketing trends to stay ahead:
- 2.4% growth in retail sales at the beginning of the year, with a gradual increase in shopper spend as restrictions are lifted
- Developing an omnichannel presence, with e-commerce as a secondary channel to complement your physical store
- Having an online presence, especially on social media, as a valuable marketing tool
- Developing highly engaging experiences across your physical and digital touchpoints
- Implementing gamification techniques to further boost customer retention
- Aiming to achieve net-zero emissions across the entirety of your business operations
- Focussing on sustainability and environmental protection in your marketing efforts
The OMG solution
It will be a tricky year for retail. Focussing on customer retention could be an effective way to stabilise revenue while remaining lean with minimal customer-acquisition related marketing expenses.
But what are the ways in which you can ramp-up customer retention easily and without deep expertise?
Well, we have developed an innovative platform that can radically enhance your customer retention metrics through digital loyalty schemes, programs, and initiatives.
With no training or complicated software tools, you can begin developing highly meaningful customer experiences for your retail store, whether you're brick-and-mortar, online ecommerce, or both.
The best part?
Implementing these solutions to your physical or online retail store requires no expertise, no training, and you only pay for the results you get.
As a little promotional brag before you go, we're also the proud owners of Fintech Startup of the Year 2020, and Best Fintech Innovation 2021 awards!
See the full range of solutions over on our website, and don't forget to join the waiting list if you want a chance to benefit.