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As always, with a new year comes new trends in the world of retail and ecommerce. Know the trends on how to influence your retail strategy this year.
If there’s one thing this past year has taught us, it’s that life can be unpredictable and behaviours can adapt and change very quickly when they need to. The COVID-19 pandemic turned the globe upside down in 2020, with nationwide lockdowns forcing many shops and businesses to close their doors and social distancing measures in place everywhere.
Retail was adversely affected by these closures.
Although the e-commerce industry sky-rocketed with consumers having to adapt to shopping online as the high streets were essentially closed. Though it’s impossible to say exactly what will happen over the next year or so, there are certainly some changes to consumer behaviour that are here to stay. What’s more, looking at insights and trends from 2020, we can reasonably guess what is to come for the retail industry now lockdown is beginning to lift.
Below, we’re going to look at four trends and predictions for 2021 and how these should influence your retail strategy this year.
1. Some pandemic behaviours are here to stay
Thanks to shop closures, social distancing measures and shielding, there were several big changes to consumer behaviour during the pandemic. And many of these look set to stay in the future, even as things begin to return to some sort of normal.
Some of the biggest changes in behaviour were:
- More people shopping locally to avoid unnecessary travel
- Many stores offering click and collect to reduce human contact
- Contactless payments being used to reduce the potential spread of germs and bacteria.
In fact, contactless payments accounted for 89% of total card payments in 2020, making that almost nine out of every 10 transactions.
What’s more, 32% of retailers were offering click and collect delivery to non-store locations last year and a staggering 80% provided click-and-collect to store locations during the same period.
As people adapt to new ways of living, the convenience of contactless shopping and as they continue to be cautious about their health, lots of these changes look set to stay. In fact, over half of consumers (56%) said they intend to continue using click and collect systems even after the pandemic is over.
As such, there are several things you need to ensure you're doing as a retailer if you hope to remain competitive. These are:
- Offering in-store and even curb-side pick up
- Ensuring you're geared up to take all kinds of payments from contactless cards to Apple and Android Pay
- You might also want to consider buy now pay later schemes which have become increasingly popular during the pandemic, with lots of people falling on hard times financially
2. The shop local movement will remain
Although we have been encouraged to shop locally for many years now, the pandemic saw this movement grow in importance for a number of reasons. Firstly, lockdowns meant people were encouraged not to travel out of their local area unless absolutely necessary. For example, if they needed to travel for work.
What’s more, with many people now facing closures and new financial challenges, it became more important than ever to shop locally and support smaller, local businesses. The pandemic has generated a lot of pride in our communities and many people have banded together to support one another.
And this movement looks set to stay, even as bigger chains begin to reopen.
In order to help your retail business pick back up this year, find ways to promote yourself in your local community. This could be at community events or through local advertising. It also pays to offer loyalty cards to encourage consumers to keep coming back or offer free shipping in the local area. But after all, the most important thing is your product and how you present it. No matter what's the situation, whether you are in your store or an outside event, always use display pedestals to make it visible and eye-catching.
What’s more, local SEO is a great way to help people find your business, so you need to make sure you improve your local online presence and boost your visibility. A strong SEO strategy will help you to do this.
One of the easiest ways to get started with this is to head over to the Google My Business site and set up a listing for your business from there.
3. Content is king
Not only are people spending more time online than ever before but today’s consumers are engaging with online content more and they aren't afraid to discover and switch brands based on this.
Plus, with more and more people joining social media every day, they continue to connect with brands they like and to look at the content they're sharing online.
It is no longer enough just to be a retailer with a website, you also need to create an online presence and boost your visibility through SEO and engagement. Content is the best way to do this.
From blog posts and advice pieces to social media images and videos, you can build your reputation and reach your target audience through great content. And with social media platforms like Instagram and Tiktok growing in popularity through the pandemic, now is the time to harness the power of these tools.
To ensure you're engaging with your target audience you should:
- Create compelling content and use a mixture of mediums. For example, blog posts, videos, listicles or white papers
- Regularly share content on your website, blog or social media pages. This can be about new products, sales or offering advice related to your industry
- Optimise your content for relevant keywords without stuffing it. Just remember, it still needs to make sense and bring genuine value to the reader
4. Purchasing will be more intentional
Facebook conducted some research into consumer behaviours over the past year and found that consumers are being more intentional with their buying behaviours.
The report said that more people were planning their visits to the shop in advance, using online resources to do so. Not only this but around two-thirds of those said their buying decisions are more planned and less spontaneous than they used to be.
With spontaneous purchases often a way to boost sales, particularly in-store, this can be worrying for retailers. However, there are several steps you can take to stay ahead of this trend of intentional shopping.
As we mentioned earlier, SEO can be hugely important for boosting your online presence and with many using the internet to help them plan their shopping ahead of time, a strong SEO strategy is crucial.
It’s also important to use analytics and insights to see which tools, websites and channels your customers use the most. This way you can target them in the places they spend most of their time.
Finally, you could offer incentives that might push consumers to make more spontaneous purchases, even if they had originally intended to be controlled. For example, offering free shipping on purchases over a certain amount or shouting about great discounts you're currently offering.
Another important technique can be abandoned basket emails. Retargeting those who might have left your website before completing their purchase. This might be what it takes to get them back onside and to complete the sale.
5. Consumers are making more eco-friendly choices
Finally, as we’ve briefly touched on above, consumers will be a lot more intentional with their purchasing and a lot more selective about the brands they’re shopping with - for example, choosing to shop locally.
As such, another big consideration for 2021 and beyond is the environment.
The pandemic made us realise that the ecosystem is fragile and that nature can have a huge impact on our lives. Not to mention, there has been increasing information being shared about the impact we’re having on our planet.
So as individuals do all they can to reduce their own carbon footprint and save the planet, for example, by recycling, driving less and investing in energy-efficient solutions, they are also looking for more eco-friendly ways to shop.
This means they’re not only looking for more environmentally friendly products such as reusable bags, straws, coffee cups, etc, but they’re also looking for brands that are doing their bit to help the planet.
The good news is, there are several ways you can make your business more environmentally friendly. This will not only help the planet but can also help you to attract more eco-conscious consumers.
Some of the ways you can go green and start making important eco-friendly choices right away include:
- Using recycled or sustainable materials for your products
- Reviewing your waste management and adding more recycling points around your business
- Recycling items you previously didn’t, such as ink cartridges, batteries and electronics
- Using sustainable and eco-conscious suppliers and third party providers. For example, a courier service that uses electric vans
- Encouraging and rewarding eco-friendly behaviour within your business
- Choosing eco-friendly or recyclable packaging for your products
- Using biodegradable and eco-friendly cleaning products in your business
Now, these are just a few suggestions and will, of course, depend on the nature of your business. You can find lots of other helpful suggestions online.
But you can take this opportunity to make a difference to the planet. You can also create some great content and branding surrounding your eco-conscious practices. This can help to make consumers aware of how you’re doing your bit to protect the environment.
There has been a lot of information in this guide, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to pull together a quick summary of the trends and predictions to influence your retail strategy this year. The key takeaways include:
- Changes in consumer behaviours, such as favouring click and collect and contactless payment, are here to stay, so make sure you have the technology in place to support this
- More people are going to shop locally, so you should find new ways to promote your business in the local community
- Content such as blog posts, social media and videos are so important, so you should use these to build your brand and reach your target audience
- Purchasing will be more intentional and consumers will be more selective with the brands they choose
- Consumers are making more eco-friendly choices therefore, you should choose more sustainable practices and products in your business.
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